2020 Guide to Summer Camps In + Around Flagstaff

It’s time to start thinking about those summer plans for your kids! This guide has something for everyone! We encourage you to work through this list and contact those camps you are interested in – many have already opened registration. Let’s make it a great summer, Flagstaff mamas! !


Are you a Camp Director interested in getting your camp included in our guide? Fill out the form HERE

Please Note :: Before we dive into this comprehensive camp list, we have to start by giving our sincerest of thank yous to our camp sponsor who made this guide possible. Please check out  Camp FALA

Come join us! CampFALA is a two week summer camp offered to kids ages 6-16 between June 15th-26th. Camps are available in one week increments, both half- and full-day options, and allows campers to experience the arts and sciences. Our workshops include dance, theatre, English, music, visual arts, as well as robotics and science. CampFALA allows students to learn new skills and experiment with different mediums.  All instructors are either FALA teachers or Flagstaff art community members.

CampFALA dates this year are June 15th-19th and June 22nd-26th. Camp will be five days a week.  This year there are half day (8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.) and full day (8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.) options. Camp fees (not including a one-time registration fee of $30 per student) are $150 half day, and $300 full day.

For more information please visit the CampFALA website or email our camp administrator, Andrea Garns, at [email protected].

Up with People Jr.

Up with People Jr is a non-profit musical arts performance summer day camp for children ages 8-12. This day camp is designed to bring children together to impact and inspire their communities through music and performance, global awareness, education, community service and summer camp fun. The camp session culminates with a high energy public performance showcasing the children’s talents, cultures, and hopes for the world.

Designed to mirror the mission and message of the international Up with People program, the Up with People Jr. summer day camp show addresses topics such as diversity, international awareness and personal identity. As Up With People recently came to Flagstaff, our Junior campers had the opportunity to meet the cast and perform with them!

This will be Flagstaff’s third summer with Junior campers helping the community, preparing for their futures, and having the time of their lives!  We will also have the possibility to perform at the Up With People reunion!

REGISTER NOW for a camp like no other! https://www.upwithpeoplejr.org/enroll/

Contact: Michelle Galloway, Flagstaff Site Director

Phone: (928) 923-3177
Up with People inspires youth to use their voice to be positive agents of change.  We act to build a more hopeful, trusting and peaceful world.
 
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CHECK OUT:
Up with People, Jr. (ages 8-12): upwithpeoplejr.org
Camp Up with People (ages 13-17): campupwithpeople.org
Up with People On Tour (ages 17-29): upwithpeople.org

Momentum Aerial Youth Aerial Camps

Momentum’s Youth Aerial Intensives are week-long camps that focus on teaching students proper technique and artistry in Silks, Trapeze, Lyra and Pole. These camps are age appropriate and welcoming of all types of children. No prior experience needed.

All of Momentum Aerial’s camps focus on cultivating self-esteem, friendship, healthy body image and other important life skills like hard work and the importance of practice. Momentum Aerial is a woman-owned local Flagstaff business with a passion and dedication to our art form and building a strong creative community.

All camps are M-F from 9am-12pm. We invite parents from 11:30am -12pm daily for parent viewing time, and friends and family on Fridays from 11:30-12pm for a weekly show. Students can drop in for the day, or register for the full week. Day Drop In $45 / Full Week $200.

Youth Aerial Camps will have separate cohorts for ages 6-8 and 9-12 years old. Each group will have daily lessons on Trapeze, Silks, Pole and Lyra. Youth Aerial Camp features a variety of games and aerial activities. Each Friday culminates in a spectacular aerial performance at 11:30am! More information on the description of each apparatus can be found here.
What to Wear and Bring: Students need to come dressed in active wear that covers the backs of the knees and under arms. Students need a snack and water bottle daily.
Funtown Circus Camp features lessons in juggling, unicycle, stilt walking, aerial dance, acro balance and circus themed arts and crafts.  This fun and funky camp celebrates the broad spectrum of circus arts, instilling a sense of wonder, creativity and skill in its participants. The last day (Friday) of Funtown Circus Camp culminates in a spectacular performance at 11:30am!
What to Wear and Bring: Students need to come in active wear that covers the backs of the knees and under arms. Students must bring sunscreen, a hat, helmet, high socks and tennis shoes daily.  Students need a snack and water bottle daily.

Contact ::[email protected]

Dates + Ages

June 1-5th Youth Aerial Camp for ages 6-12
June 8 – 12th Teen Aerial Camp (13-17)
June 15- 19 Youth Aerial Camp for ages 6-12
June 29- July 3rd Funtown Circus Camp for ages 6-12

Flagstaff Challenger International Soccer Camps

Challenger Sports, the leading soccer camp company in North America, has combined the most popular elements of their two existing industry-leading camp programs, British Soccer and TetraBrazil, integrating them into a collection of the most effective soccer practices used by youth teams around the world.

The Challenger International Soccer Camp reflects the truly global nature of the sport today and provides young players with a wide variety of coaching styles, practices, and influences that will help them develop a well-rounded skill set.

We have taken the best coaching methodologies and practices from England, Brazil, Spain, USA and France and have woven them together in a multi-faceted on and off-field coaching experience.

Camps will include a free soccer ball, T-shirt, Poster and Certificate, as well as a free early registration replica jersey.

Contact :: [email protected]

Dates + Ages

June 1st-5th & June 15th-19th   |   2- 14 years

Summer Camp KJ

Home based summer day camps with plenty of outdoor, sunny Flagstaff fun! I have been running camps our of my backyard and home for 13 summers and have loved every one! We will create, design, rehearse and perform our own unique play Theater week!! We will explore a whole day each of clay, painting, bead work and jewelry, folk art and drawing during Art Camp. Baking at high altitude isn’t intimidating for kids!! We have a day each of breads, cakes, pies and tarts, chocolate and candy and cookies; making between 8 and 15 recipes every day with loaded plates to take home and sample during Baking Camp!! YUM!! Culinary Art is all about the details!! Cake decorating, cookie decorating, bread art and designing, baking, building and decorating Gingerbread houses will help get our edible artsy sides going! Come on over and Join in the fun!!! West side, close to downtown location!

Limited to 8 Campers to comply with smaller gathering recommendations

Contact and to Register :: [email protected]

Kristie Jones, 928-214-7162, leave message

Dates + Ages

Baking Camp: June 1-5, 9am to 2pm, $250, includes all supplies, ingredients and a plate loaded with our creations each day!

Theater Camp June 8-12:, 9am -1pm, $180

Culinary Arts Camp: June 15 – 18, 9am to 1pm, $220, includes all supplies and delicious creations each day, ages 8 and up

Art Camp: June 22-26, 9am to 1pm, $220, includes all supplies

NAU Volleyball Camp

NAU Volleyball Camps provide skill development to many ages, whether you are a beginner or a skilled and experienced player. The NAU Volleyball staff’s goal is to create an engaging and exciting environment for campers to learn and polish their skills, strategies, and game.

Contact :: [email protected]

Dates + Ages

All Skills Camp: July 11-13, 2020; Females 5th-12th grade
Team Camp: July 14-16, 2020; Female High School Teams
Advanced Camp: July 17-19, 2020; Females 9th-12th grade

Mt. Calvary Early Learning Center

We offer summer days full of fun and learning all in a Faith based environment. Mornings will be full of play based learning and centers and also a dedicated bible story time. Afternoons are for water play, bike day and the bounce house!

Contact :: 928-774-8811 extension 102   |  [email protected]org

Dates + Ages

June 1 – July 31, 2020   |    3-6 years

Curry Summer Music Camp at NAU

Learn
– Work with NAU School of Music faculty and renowned musicians from across the country
– Full ensemble rehearsals with outstanding clinicians each day
– Attend master classes, sectionals, and other courses that expand knowledge and appreciation of different facets of music
– Private lesson and chamber coaching opportunities

Perform
– Final ensemble concerts in Ardrey Memorial Auditorium at the end of each session
– Audition to perform for peers in the annual Camper Showcase and Variety Show
– Pianists perform in recital on the stage of Ardrey Memorial Auditorium at the conclusion of each session

Enjoy
– Established in 1950 by Dr. Jack Swartz
– Surrounded by the San Francisco Peaks on the Northern Arizona University campus in Flagstaff, Arizona
– Attend concerts, recitals, and other fun activities such as the talent show, dances, movie nights, camp games, and more!

Contact :: [email protected]

Dates + Ages

Junior Session: June 21 – 27 (entering grade 7 – 9 in fall 2020)
Senior Session: June 14 – 20 (entering grade 9 – 12 or graduating seniors in fall 2020)

NAU Community Music and Dance Academy

Music and dance classes and lessons are available for students of all abilities. Ages 4 years old through adults. Classes priced at $12 per hour. Package registration required. We offer private lessons for any instrument, any ability, and for all ages. Join us for music workshops, and ballet classes. Beginner and new dance students ages 5-9 years old can learn about different countries through dance and activities in our Dance Around The World classes. Explore your love of dance in an adult ballet class. Take a look at our additional class offerings and join us this summer in exploring your music and dance passion.

Contact :: [email protected]

Dates + Ages

June 1 – August 21 | 4 -18 and adults

Lowell Observatory Camps for Kids

1st/2nd Grades | Exploring the Moon
Campers will enjoy learning about the moon with fun activities like creating their own space suits, building Earth/Moon models, and constructing craters. Other activities will include hiking, drawing, playing games, and more.

3rd/4th Grades | Discovering the Sun
Campers will build solar ovens and solar models and will safely observe the sun with telescopes and other devices. Other activities will include hiking, drawing, playing games, and more.

5th/6th Grades | Lighting Our Way
Campers will construct spectrometers and participate in exciting activities designed to teach them about the electromagnetic spectrum. Other activities will include hiking, drawing, playing games, and more.

7th/8th/9th Grades | Astronomical Research
Campers will get a brief look into what astronomical research is like through fun, hands-on science experiments. From collecting data to presenting their results, students will dive deeper into the world of science. Other activities will include hiking, drawing, playing games, and more.

Contact :: [email protected]

Dates + Ages

6 – 14 years old

June 15-19 (grades 1-9)
June 22-26 (grades 1-9)
July 13-17 (grades 1-6)

MNA Discovery Summer Camps

Each week-long summer camp offers amazing experiences and meaningful exploration of the natural sciences, art and culture of the Colorado Plateau. All camps take full advantage of the Museum’s exhibits, outdoor spaces, and natural environment surrounding Flagstaff. Camps are led by experienced educators, have a small class size, and are located in a safe and fun environment at the museum’s Discovery village. Extended care and scholarships are available.

Contact :: Jennifer Glennon   | [email protected]

Dates + Ages

June 8-July 31, 2020  |    4-14 years

Bloom 2020: An Event for New and Expecting Moms

Who :: All Northern Arizona moms or moms-to-be {no kids, please, with the exception of young nurslings}

When :: Thursday, April 16, 2020  6:00pm-8:30pm

Where :: The Garden’s at Violas

Ticket Sale Date :: Early Bird – ends Sunday, March 8 at Noon. General Admission – On Sale Friday March, 13

Cost :: $15 for general admission {includes EVERYTHING featured at the event – food, beverages, activities, and  raffle tickets. You do NOT need cash unless you want to shop (and we hope you do!)}

We couldn’t be happier that Bloom, a celebration of all things motherhood specifically designed for new moms and moms-to-be, is coming back to Flagstaff for the third year! This popular event is ideal for expectant Northern Arizona moms or those who are thinking of expanding their family. This is indeed a kid-free event, with the exception of young nurslings. It is rare that we as moms can get out and about on our own, and Bloom is all about taking an evening off and getting away from the routine for a celebration that’s all about YOU.

Flagstaff Moms Blog is known for producing high-quality events for Flagstaff area moms, families and children! We look forward to seeing your family soon and also encourage you to join the Facebook Event Page for additional fun updates!

Title Sponsor :: 2020 Bloom

We are extremely thankful to our title sponsor, as it is their generosity and support that allows our events to take place! 

Event Sponsors :: 2020 Bloom

We hope that you will plan to spend time with each of these amazing Bloom partners during our event. Each business offers something wonderful for Northern Arizona area moms or moms-to-be and we are pleased to introduce you to each of these Bloom sponsors at the event itself!

 

Table Sponsors :: 2020 Bloom

We hope that you will plan to spend time with each of these amazing Bloom partners during our event. Each business offers something wonderful for Northern Arizona moms or moms-to-be and we are pleased to introduce you to each of these Bloom sponsors at the event itself!

Decor Sponsors :: 2020 Bloom

We are so grateful to the fantastic businesses that are partnering with us to create a beautiful and inviting ambiance at our event! These sponsors are bringing our vision for Bloom to life, and we are so excited for you to see the beauty they are helping us create. 

Giveaway Sponsors :: 2020 Bloom

What’s a Flagstaff Moms Blog event without giveaways? These giveaways were specifically selected because of their relevance to expectant moms or moms with little ones. 

SWAG Bag Sponsors :: 2020 Bloom

All Bloom guests will be pampered and spoiled with a wonderful event! In addition, our attendees will receive a Bloom Swag Bag! Our Bloom swag partners offer products and items that are intended for new moms (whether it is your first or fourth child) and moms-to-be. You can expect to be spoiled at this event and leave with an array of goodies that will help you with your growing family!

Disclaimers: ALL TICKET SALES ARE FINAL. NO REFUNDS. NO RAIN CHECKS. THIS EVENT WILL HAPPEN RAIN OR SHINE. In the event of an act of God (such as a blizzard or giant lizard attack) we may not be able to reschedule due to the complex nature of the event and we will NOT offer refunds. In the event that you cannot attend the event we will do our best to assist you in finding another mom to exchange/give/or sell your ticket if the need arises and/or if time allows.  FMB nor Violas Flower Garden will be responsible and/or liable for any attendees who leave the event area. Additionally, everyone that purchases a ticket will be subscribed to our email list (if they have not been already) in order to provide the most timely and up to date event info. Photos will be taken at the event and of attendees for use on the blog and on social media by the Flagstaff Moms Blog and sponsors.

Visiting Flagstaff for Summer 2020 – 5 Things to Know

Tourism time has once again returned to Flagstaff. Even in the midst of a global pandemic our little mountain town is still seeing visitors. Tourists are seeking a change of scenery, cooler temperatures, and an opportunity to enjoy natural open spaces for recreation.

I say welcome, but please be respectful of our community

Local businesses depend on the summer tourism economy. Restaurants and hotels want to serve customers. Recreation-based businesses look to the summer months as an opportunity to thrive. Residents understand the importance of a tourist economy. But COVID-19 has changed much of what we anticipated Summer 2020 to look like. With that in mind…

  1. Recognize that locals are still working and living in Flagstaff. This is our home, we live here 365 and while you might be on vacation, leaving your worries behind – you are visiting us right smack in the midst of ours. We are stretched too thin, overworked, understaffed, and simply just trying to maintain our lives. Please be thoughtful in your interactions and remember that we’re doing our best right now.
  2. Restaurants are adapting, servers are people too. Dining options look different these days, and the wait for a table (should you elect to dine-in) may be much longer with the new social distancing recommendations for restaurants. Please, please, please do not rant and rave all over the internet about a negative experience you had at XYZ establishment. Contact the business directly to share your constructive criticism regarding your experience.
  3. Consider that Summer Camps and childcare options are limited. Local residents and essential workers are scrambling to secure childcare for the summer. If you’re visiting Flagstaff and looking for summer childcare options, realize that they may be few and far between. Several of our annual summer programs have had to either close completely or significantly limit the number of attendees.
  4. Leave no trace. There is a long and tense history of visitors enjoying our natural open spaces only to leave behind piles of trash and waste. In the winter this often includes broken plastic snow sleds. In the warmer months our creeks and hiking areas are overflowing with litter. Everything from clothing to condoms, dirty diapers to cigarettes, toilet paper to pure trash is clogging up our beautiful forests. Countless community members volunteer their efforts to pick up this waste, please do not add to the problem. In fact, I challenge you to be part of the solution and join our community effort – pick up 10 pieces of trash any time you visit a local creek or hiking trail.
  5. Be aware of the current COVID conditions in our community. Flagstaff is a neighboring community to the Navajo Nation* which has been hit extremely hard by COVID-19. This website is a good resource for the Navajo Nation, and we suggest visiting the Coconino Country COVID-19 Dashboard for additional information. Both of these websites will give you a clearer picture of where our community is at with managing the virus, and how impacted our healthcare system is.

*If you would like to join the community effort to support the Navajo Nation COVID-19 Relief Fund, visit this site.

Flagstaff might be the recreational playground for some, but it’s also home to many.

As a resident that is passionate about Flagstaff, our community, economy, and natural spaces I urge you to be kind and considerate should you choose to visit Flagstaff this Summer. The past few months have been very hard on all of us, and while I understand your desire to exercise your choice for travel and tourism I also care deeply about my home and fellow community members.

Please, come and enjoy – but be informed and be kind.

Stop Praising Children

As mothers, we strive to do our best to raise our children, we often look for tools, activities and people to help us navigate motherhood and shape our children’s mind positively so that they turn into healthy, happy, independent adults. I was introduced to the book entitled Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carole S. Dweck that changed the way I talk to my 5 years old daughter.

Praise

It comes naturally to us to praise our children when they do well. I mean, how many times have we said “good job,” “you are really good at this,” “you are such a good helper,” and the list goes on. We assume that words of positive reinforcement regarding our child’s intellect and talent would make them feel more confident in their abilities and push them to do better. What if I told you that praising affects a child’s worth and negatively impacts their motivation to accomplish more.

Fixed and Growth Mindset

To understand how praise can backfire, it is important to understand the role mindsets play. Some people have a fixed mindset. They think their abilities, talents, and intelligence are fixed attributes. Those with fixed mindsets believe that intelligence and talent is determined at birth. Others have a growth mindset, they think intelligence and abilities are things that can be developed and cultivated. We adopt either one of those mindsets or a mixture of both from childhood.

Praising intelligence and talent condition children to develop a fixed mindset. Children as well as adults with a fixed mindset would rather complete a task that they know instead of something challenging because they fear failure. Failure means that they are not smart or talented anymore. Consequently, those children don’t take setbacks well; they would sulk and let failure define their worth.

When children have a growth mindset, they do not fear failure, instead failure is an opportunity to challenge themselves. In other words, failure increases their abilities and achievements in the long run.

Harnessing the Growth Mindset

First, our brain needs to be nourished to strive. Diet and sleep play an important role however, our brain expands with new experiences. The development of new skills, which is strengthened through hard work and persistence, is crucial in developing a growth mindset. Therefore, one way to ensure that children are developing a growth mindset is to teach them that their brain is malleable. Every time they learn something new, their brain becomes stronger and healthier.

Second, instead of praising intelligence “you are so smart” or talent “you are so good a basketball,” praise your child’s perseverance and their improvement. For example, you can praise your child’s perseverance by saying “I can tell you’ve been practicing” or “I like the way you’re sticking to it, even when it is difficult”

Third, stay away from empty praises such as “your drawing is beautiful” or “just do your best”. Be sincere because even young children can sense when someone is praising poor performances.

Final Thoughts

Parents, teachers, coaches, and essentially anybody who interacts with children play a very important role in fostering either a fixed or growth mindset. In the long run, the latter will ensure a generation of individual who value hard work, is better equipped to face challenging situations, and who do not fear failure.

 

 

Should You Hire a Character for your Child’s Birthday Party? Confessions of a Party Princess

The weather is getting warmer, and here that can only mean one thing: birthday party season is fast upon us. For years this time of year has meant something very different to me. I often spend hours making sure my make up looks perfect and my hair lays just right. On any given weekend you can see me in a petticoat or two filling kids dreams one verse of “Let it Go” at a time.

Oh hey, it’s me!

Now that I’m a mom, I see these parties very differently. Lots of moms have never hired a character performer and people tend to have a lot of questions. I’m here to demystify the process and show why hiring any sort of entertainer for a party can be a really fun addition!

What is it exactly?

There are lots of different ways you can spice up a birthday party or other celebration with an entertainer but what I do is what we refer to in the biz as “Party Princessing.” Now this can be a lot of things, but in general, it usually just means that someone comes to your house or party place, dressed as a requested character and for the duration of their time there, lives as that character. This means they will be IN CHARACTER, so don’t go asking them where they go to school and be surprised if they tell you that an owl taught them how to dance. Lots of companies and individuals do lot of other activities and packages, but that is just a baseline of what you are getting.

It’s a real job!

Yes, being a children’s entertainer is a lot of fun, but please don’t mistake it for anything other than a job. For any length of appearance, it often takes me around two to three hours to get ready, and once I am, I am focused. I need to make the birthday child happy #1 but then also make sure that I spend enough time with the other guest so they also feel special, keep an eye on whoever is hosting the party, and that they are happy, make sure all the activities that have been paid for stay on track and happen, and that I am there for the whole allotted time and don’t run short or over. It’s a lot to keep track of in your head and can be very exhausting.

Even a Queen’s gotta get a bite after work

Is it right for your kid?

Hiring an entertainer of any kind for your child’s birthday party can be expensive, but in my totally biased opinion it is worth it! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve experienced the utter and sheer joy that a birthday girl or boy has had when a princess, fairy, or superhero enters the room. And the long almost never ending hugs are something that I live for. I’d say for the most worth it experience, make sure you talk thoroughly with whoever you are hiring about whatever package you are looking at. Different ages are better for different activities and a professional can help you figure out the best package for you. They have been to dozens to hundreds of parties and events for all different ages and typically knows what will work best. In my honest opinion, the younger the child, the shorter amount of time I would have a character there, as it can be overwhelming.

Planning a child’s birthday party can be a lot and I know, for a lot of moms (I’m one of them!), that the pressure to throw the biggest, best party in the neighborhood is high. The important thing is that you have fun, whatever that looks like!

What about you? Have you ever hired any sort of party entertainment for your child? What was your experience?

Sonograms. The Good, The Bad and The Scary

Sonograms

Thankfully, for many people going to their sonogram is exciting. They get to hear the heartbeat and see the little baby wave their hand and kick their feet, they might even find out the gender of their bundle of joy. Doctor smiles, mom and dad smile, everyone rejoices. It’s easy to forget that the sonogram is a very important medical tool looking to see if there are complications in baby’s growth, development and overall health. In my years of trying to have a family I think I’ve experienced a large range of sonograms. I’ve had them confirm that my baby no longer has a heartbeat, I’ve heard that beautiful sound fill the room as they say “everything looks great,” I’ve had the technician leave the room to grab a doctor who comes in with a serious face to change my life forever and I’ve had a scare that turned out to be nothing of importance. You have also had one or many of these, or will one day and I thought we should have a cup of warm tea together and break them down.

THE GOOD

My greatest hope is that this is all you’ve ever experienced and all you will experience. These are the fun ones, the ones that make you realize “holy smokes it’s not just pizza, look at the baby in there!” The technician feels the delight as you and your partner excitedly look in wonder at the baby(ies) that’s about to change your world. The doctor is with you only a brief moment to tell you everything looks great, smile and ask if you have any questions before you proudly leave with pictures of your peanut to show off. Rejoice and be grateful, to you this may be ordinary but trust me when I tell you that SO many walk out of their appointments with heads low and hearts heavy. Don’t take it for granted and let this bring you SO much gratitude, love and comfort. Share your baby’s photos proudly with loved ones and keep it in the back of your mind if someone isn’t as excited for you as you’d hoped, it probably has nothing to do with you but with their own experience that didn’t go as well. Let these moments feel your heart to the brim and not lose sight of how blessed you’ve been. Life is always going to present hardships but right now, life is oh so sweet!

THE BAD PART 1

My dear sweet friend, if this is you, if this is ever you, hear me first. YOU are LOVED, YOU are NOT cursed, YOU are a mother and YOU are strong. It’s hard for me to type this without tears coming to my eyes or memories forcing their way back to my mind. There are 2 most common “bad” sonograms and were going to discuss them both. One of them is typically in the first trimester when the room goes silent as the technician or Dr searches for a heartbeat. A heaviness fills the air as you hopefully have a hand to squeeze and you feel your throat tighten when you hear that unfortunately, there is no heartbeat. The Dr. will share condolences and talk to you about where to go from here. This is not the moment where you have to “pull it together” do not be afraid to let the tears fall, you have just experienced a great loss and you can’t push through that kind of pain. It’s OK to be sad, mad and or any range of emotion you feel.

TIPS TOWARDS HEALING

  • Discuss with your doctor your next steps
  • Discuss if there is currently any reason to believe that there could be a genetic or infertility reason for the loss (if this is your first loss, most likely not!)
  • 1 in 4 couples will experience a miscarriage and though this is NOT a comforting statistic it does mean there are so many people, groups, etc out there who can help you in your journey of healing and fight the feeling of loneliness
  • Decide who if anyone to talk to right away – maybe you’re really close to your parents, a sibling or a good friend and you know they will bring you comfort in this moment, CALL! Or maybe you know that a loved one is going to say the wrong thing and you can’t handle that right now, it’s OK to screen phone calls and take your time in sharing (if ever) YOUR news!
  • Social Media Break – Look we all know there are pros and cons to social media and we also know that for the most part it is a “highlight” of people’s life and not often where people share the hardships they go through. So for you, when you go online you are going to feel as if EVERY ONE you know is having babies or sharing photos of their perfect families and you’re going to think “Why not me, why not my baby?” It’s TOTALLY normal but also not the best thing for you mentally right now, take a break from social media until you feel strong enough to come back.

THE BAD PART 2

The other “bad” sonogram typically occurs at the “20 week ultrasound.” This is the one most parents go into blissfully excited to find out the gender of their baby and want a peek at what no longer looks like a strange shape but an actual little baby on screen. This however, is a vital appointment that let’s the Dr. see in much more detail how your baby is developing and what is or isn’t present. Seeing as how at this point you are half-way through your pregnancy you often think you are in the “clear” and the news that something might be wrong can shake you to your very core.

You might notice that the technician is taking a particularly long time on one area, or that the technician left and the Dr came in and says they want to take another look at something. Then they begin to talk using medical jargon and you feel like the walls are coming in on you. Again, this is not the moment to be strong you just got news that the baby you carry, love and feel may have health issues that will effect their quality of life. Here are my suggestions from experience in this moment, your heart rate is going to be instantly raised, tears will be filling your eyes and your brain is going to become foggy, the Dr’s speech may be hard to focus on.

If you or your partner have the wherewithal to do so, RECORD the conversation because trust me when I tell you details will become hard to remember and you and your partner may recall things differently. It’s OK to repeat yourself several times to make sure you TRULY understand the answer. Ask for printed documents so that you may later read over things. Do not feel rushed to chose your next steps now, often this is huge news and you need time to process. This type of appointment usually leads to many more appointments, specialists, and long conversations with doctors. It may or may not mean that your child will face certain challenges in their life or that you are even looking at the loss of your child. There is nothing I can say here to make ANY of that OK. NOTHING. So, I only wish to share what I learned from during this time.

MOVING FORWARD

  • Please know ALL the tips from above also apply to you!
  • Join “liked experienced” groups – as we went through this process we were put in contact with groups for families whose child had similar struggles. Often one of the scariest parts of this experience is the fear of the unknown and the loneliness that comes with that but meeting families who were able to share tips, tricks, highs and lows can be extremely comforting and necessary (especially when you meet families who made it out of the initial shock you are in).
  • Become an advocate for you and your child, most doctors are VERY helpful and incredible but this is NOT their child, feel free to get a second, third, or 50th opinion on your options.
  •  SEEK COUNSELING- This is honestly, the biggest advice I can give. When we first received my sons diagnosis my husband had the incredible foresight to realize we needed to discuss our feelings to a professional. And when my son’s heart stopped at 6 months pregnant he dragged me off the couch to continue my counseling. To this day the memories of this make my throat constrict but I can promise you this, had I not agreed to counseling I would not be able to share my experiences now and it worries me to think where I would be today.
  • At all times remember you and your baby ARE LOVED and there is support out there, but you have to agree to seek it, and though right now it is impossible to see through the fog, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The picture you once had for your family has changed but don’t give up on it, there is beauty still to be found.

The Scary

These sonograms start out like the bad part 2 sonograms. The doctor informs you that something they see gives them pause for concern. You will experience all the same panicked and worried feelings as above when they describe the possibilities and where they want to go from here. Usually, after something in the sonogram gives them a reason to worry the next steps will involve one or a combination of genetic testing, amniocentesis, Echo-cardiogram etc etc  specific to what they see. Remember all the tips from above in these moments, don’t be afraid to show emotion and ask as many questions as you need, as well as taking sometime to decide which steps you want to take. With many of these you will have to wait for results, results that will forever change your future. Waiting is EXCRUCIATING!

For days or weeks you will await to hear the status of your child’s health. It !****** SUCKS, i’m not going to sugar coat it. My advice is to stay busy, stay distracted and for the love of all things good avoid the internet! The fact that I’m telling you this makes my husband roar with laughter because I am completely guilty of googling possibilities and allowing it to send me in a downward spiral. So do as I say not as I do, please! Let’s be honest, what you are hoping to find is your babies exact scenario with multiple sources promising it was nothing to worry about! That’s NOT what your going to find. Have you ever googled your symptoms thinking it would just be a cold and suddenly you think you’re dying of a rare disease, it’s like that, DON’T do it! Worrying about the future will not change the results, it will not soften the blow in fact it only makes it worse.

To quote my favorite Hufflepuff, “Worrying means you suffer twice.” Yes, your scenario is just as likely to end up as the above ones but when you got the phone call telling you the results of further test, it turns out that in this case the sonogram was picking up on something that either doesn’t exist (remember sonograms like all things are not perfect) or something that does not appear to play a vital role in your child’s health. If there is ever a time to fall to your knees with gratitude, it’s now! Let this moment be a constant reminder for when things get hard in the future, when you are exhausted and covered in baby puke and can’t remember the last time you showered, recall that your baby is healthy and these struggles you face now, though hard, in the BIG picture are small potatoes. Exhale the weight you’ve been feeling for days and rejoice in the good news, just don’t forget the power of this moment!

SO Not a “Mini Session” Mom

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For a family who isn’t necessarily comfortable in front of the camera, my husband and I have been blessed with incredible photographers in our lives and a daughter who, despite acting shy and clinging to me in public, dazzles the camera.

Since our daughter has just celebrated her first birthday, this is the first year that our family was intrigued by the idea of a family mini session among the aspens.  When it was just the two of us, we were able to take great (well, pretty good) images of ourselves with no more than a timer and a tripod (you should see our proposal photos).  Having a little one to manage as well as finding all the right angles means you can’t guarantee everyone will be looking at the camera when the timer goes off and family selfies are more often comical than cute.

After learning that our maternity/newborn photographer was no longer shooting, we really lucked out and found the most wonderful photographer for our daughter’s cake smash.  Since it was already late September when our daughter turned one, we inquired about fall family sessions before we even got the first image back from her.  She let us know that she would be offering aspen sessions and we let her know we were eager to book.  Then came the question, “Mini or full?”  Say what?

In case you’re like me and you are new to the world of yearly family photos, a mini session is just like it sounds, a super short, one background, one outfit session that is usually no longer than 30 minutes in length.  Prices and product vary by photographer, but a mini session is usually a great value if you only want pictures of your kids or full family (and if you have already had a full portrait session done recently).

Since we had just had some family photos taken along with the cake smash photos and because our daughter is usually pretty happy, I opted for a mini session, but it took quite a bit of back and forth to try and make our dates work with the photographer’s offerings and the timing of the aspen change.  In a perfect world, everyone can sign up for the golden hour without having to leave work early or worry about wardrobe, hair, nap schedule, etc.

I had an actual nightmare about how the mini session would go.  I can’t remember the details now, but I think it was my normally type-B personality trying to prepare me for the whirlwind that was our family mini session.

I wanted to be prepared for the shoot so I read everything our photographer sent us, packed two different outfits for myself, three for baby girl, and at least 10 bow possibilities.  I even took the time to read our photographer’s questionnaire aloud to my husband.  “If we had to choose, would we like more candid or more posed photos?”  “Whole family photos or stunning portraits of our daughter?”  “Mommy and me/Daddy and me?”  “Would we be bringing our pets?” Naively, we planned to have our goldens in the car, “just in case.”

We left work early, grabbed the babe from daycare, and raced up to Aspen Corner.  I had changed in the bathroom at work, but when we arrived really close to our start time, I still had to change our daughter in the car and finalize her bow choice.

We finished changing and at 4 minutes into our 30 minute session then raced to the trail-head.  Our photographer was nowhere to be found.  With what little cell service there was, I messaged her, stalked her photography page, and pushed the little phone button I found on her page, praying it was a cell number.  I got her voicemail.  Just then, as we neared halfway through our 30 minute slot, some friends we recognized were getting out of their car with their dog—to meet the same photographer!  As we chatted with them, the photographer called me back.  She was arriving, but thought we had been scheduled on a different day.  I began to doubt everything.

Without a second thought, however, our photographer sprang into action, carving out 15 minutes for our family and going to the closest little patch of aspen she could find.  Our mini session got turned into a mini-mini session.  Frantically, I messed with baby’s hair throughout our shoot.   Her bow kept creeping back.  I took it off.  She looked like she had headband hair; I put it back on.  I wished I had bathed her to make her curls pop.  Were the three of us even looking in the same direction?

Despite the whirlwind and chaos surrounding us, our photographer managed to get calm, serene photos of the three of us that looked like they had been shot during the golden hour.  I have no idea how she did it, a tribute to her skills and experience.

Despite the positive outcome, I have learned one thing: I am SO not a mini session mom.  It’s not so much the mini session that is difficult for me, it’s the seeming unpredictability and the number of moving pieces—the light, our mood, the drive time, scouting a location, etc.  I’m so glad that I have experienced our photographer in both a setting where she was able to take extra time with us and one where I got to see just how quick and clever she can be (and still capture our daughter’s attention).  I’m also glad that this year we decided to have someone else behind the lens.  For next year, though, I will schedule early and opt for a full session.

Working Mom & Having It All?

We’ve all heard it, the big push for “having it all” as a working mom.  “You can have the career you’ve always dreamed of AND be a mom.”  They said.

I’m not here to bash on the new movement for more women leaders but with the way real life is right now, all that means to me is more work for mom’s. 

So…I’m here to confess, I don’t want it all.

When I found out I was pregnant with my son I made a good, honest evaluation of how much time I spent enthralled in my role managing a newly developing health care delivery system.  I loved the challenges of this role, the problems we were solving and the thrill when our innovative ideas came to fruition. Still, I wondered how I was going to manage attending multiple evening board meeting and the challenging work that I often brought home, while caring for a new baby?

Eventually, I realized I just couldn’t handle it.

I made the frightening move of changing jobs when I was seven months pregnant.  There was no hiding that I would soon be taking some time off and I obviously “had a lot going on in my personal life.” Luckily, my new job was with my previous boss, with whom I had worked with for a handful of years.  She had been trying to get me to come back to my old company for some time.  And she was a mother herself, understanding what motherhood entailed, especially early on.

To date, it has been the best career move I’ve made.  I’m able to volunteer in my son’s classroom on a weekly basis and take time for myself occasionally.  The benefits of flexibility, time and little stress with my Work At Home position while having a supportive, understanding boss are exactly what I need during this stage of motherhood.  It allows me to experience the unforgettable moments and silly memories that cannot be recreated. Nothing beats being able to see the proud smile on my son’s face as I walk through his school doors while hearing him tell his friends, “My mom is here today,” as we exchange waves across the classroom then having the other student’s come to me saying, “Dash’s Mom, can I be the next to do a lesson with you?”

I know that job opportunities will come and go but I can never get back this time with my son.

Mentoring Changed Me

I had the unique privilege of being a mentor recently.

I didn’t really know what I was signing up for when the process began. A meeting in one of our church’s children’s classrooms. The meeting was just informational, but after that meeting I committed.

Let me start a bit further back than that.

Jobs for Life, the organization that was recruiting the mentors from our church, started when years ago a pastor of a different church needed a parking lot paved. He contacted a company he knew of and together that employee and that pastor partnered together. One providing jobs, the other providing the people needed for the jobs, people needing somewhere to work. Now it is a network of churches, ministries, and businesses in cities all over the world training out of work men and women for work and transforming people’s lives. You can get the full story and more info here.

Back to last summer

I really didn’t know what to expect the very first meeting, and was kind of out of my element. Good thing this one, like most “first meetings,” are a get to know you and here’s what you can expect over the course of this class. Over the next 8 weeks, students in the Jobs for Life class would be learning things that would help them get and keep a job; but not JUST a job, but something that could be a career and something they love. The mentors, called champions, would be there for a specific student or two providing support, encouragement, and counsel, and being a personal helper for the students going through the class; someone to help the students succeed.

We met for class twice a week, midday. We talked about backgrounds, roadblocks to getting a job, career interests, how to interview, how to dress, and stature. We did mock interviews, and had actual HR reps come talk to us. The class started out with 12 students and 10 of them “graduated!”

Lessons learned

What these students learned was more than how to get and keep a job or a career that they like, but how to treat employers and coworkers alike, how to present oneself with poise and dignity. They learned that they are not trash or society’s throw a way’s just because of their current situation. They learned that there is someone who cares deeply for them that wasn’t there 8 weeks prior.

My student could have been me, given different circumstances for either of us. We’re both mother’s, both of us had been out of the work force (for the most part) for quite a number of years. We both have experience schooling our kiddos at home. I know she learned a lot through the class. But me? Through this woman, I learned about life, how really good mine actually is. I learned that I could come out of my shell, and possibly use some of the information given in the class. I gained a friend. I gained someone I care about and converse with still on occasion. I learned that I have a lot of compassion and a lot of information to give, even though I don’t have but two very seasonal jobs myself.

I’ll be back for the next 8 weeks of classes! I’ll impart what I know. I’m sure I’ll learn more than I would have thought when I signed up for this.

I am a mentor

I’m Playing Animal Crossing: Ways I’m Coping with Quarantine (I’m Not)

We are now on day 173563791007 of Stay-At-Home Isolation. Not really, but it sure feels like it at this point.

The first two weeks I was totally fine. We are very lucky in our circumstances during this time when many have it a lot harder. My husband normally works at home, and I am a stay-at-home with two kids not in school. Not much changed from our daily life, but little things did. I wasn’t the one who went to the grocery store anymore. I didn’t have any library time for the girls to run around. No random drop-in with the cousins. The events and play dates I had coming up were all cancelled. And worst of all our upcoming vacation to Disneyland was cancelled.

That last one was the worse for me, as I had been looking forward to it for months and showing my daughter YouTube videos of the rides almost everyday to get her ready. The first two weeks I knew in my heart we were going to be buckled down for a while, but I willfully believed it would all be fine by the end of April. At the end of week two, when my brain and heart finally connected, I started to lose it.

I was in a terrible mood the whole day. Eventually I announced I was taking a time out. I left my husband to tend to our kids, drew a bath, put on some music, poured some wine, and cried. Selfishly there were things I wanted to do! Places I wanted to go! Restaurants I wanted to eat at!

You can’t prove this isn’t my bathroom.

Ever since then I have been in this tired fog. At the beginning of isolation (before my meltdown) I started a 30-day yoga challenge. I have now been stuck on day 16 for four days. All the projects I started because I was ‘gonna use this time’ sit half finished and I am completely unmotivated to do any of it. The unending sameness of the days just give me an overall sense of ‘who cares’ and ‘what for’.

The ‘what for’ is my kids. The energy I have to spend is now spent on making sure they still have a happy normal day to day. I have a few more time outs then I used to have, and my nap times are being spent playing Animal Crossings like the rest of the world, but that’s okay. Literally right now is about surviving and that is what we are going to do.

On the plus side my avatar is super cute. So there’s that.

Pandemic Repercussions

I know I am not alone on this one. This social isolation, social distancing, self quarantine, shelter in place has created this bizarre roller coaster of highs and lows. We are on the crazy ride in Willy Wonka’s tunnel of haulinactions trying to navigate stressers we’ve never experienced, adjust to a life with fewer distractions and more time alone with our thoughts and memories. 

It started out with friends texting old pictures from boxes of memories they finally had time to look through. Then we all laughed at the memes about our significant others having conference call voices or being the “let’s circle back to that later” guy or jokes about our inconsiderate coworkers.

Under all of the changes and humor and fear I am starting to see something I don’t believe any of us were prepared to process. This new found time with our thoughts, without distractions, without the hustle and to-do’s we’ve convinced ourselves had to get done has left space for the stuff we hid in the back of our minds. The stuff we pushed aside and just stayed busy to avoid addressing. The memories that don’t feel as great this time around as they did 25 years ago. The missing attention and praise we found solis in while we shined in the spotlight trying to validate our purpose or career.

It’s not all bad stuff we hide away, it could be passions and loves we let fade in the rear view to make time and space for what we thought was more important. It could be the rekindling of friendships you knew would always be there but you admittedly have not given the time or attention you should. It could be a the random text from the strained relationship that you’ve always kept at arm’s distance that has left you feeling unsettled. You may have taken to heart those posts on social media about the world literally stopping for you to figure out where your priorities are and you may be frantically or purposely starting to reevaluate aspects of your life.

I’d be willing to bet whatever you are sitting with currently it was not what you thought you’d have occupying your mind three months ago. 

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Meet the Guest Writer 
 
Stephanie is a working mom, trying to successfully navigate the corporate world, maintain a healthy and loving marriage, and keep her three daughters alive daily, while keeping her sanity in tack.
 
You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook and find more of her writing on her blog

30-Day Challenge: Marriage Edition

I found myself dying for a date night with my husband this week. That may not seem odd unless you’ve been living under “stay at home” orders for the past few weeks with A LOT of time together. I’m one of those weird ones who married their high school sweetheart and still can’t get enough of him, 27 years later. But I have also realized after this many years of togetherness that relationships don’t thrive on just being together. Healthy, thriving marriages require intentionality, creativity, grit, and sacrifice.

Wait, don’t quit on me yet. I realize all of this togetherness may be shining a light on some of the struggles in your relationship. And I have a challenge for you that could, if you wanted it to, have you in an even better place when we come out of this “extended togetherness” time.

Ready for a 30-day marriage challenge? What else do you have to do these days? I’m kidding. What if you did one thing a day for the next 30 days that would move you toward your spouse, remind yourself why you love him, or cause you to serve him in a surprising way? Let’s give our partners and ourselves the gift of intentionality for the next 30 days–because love is an action verb, takes work and will grow if you feed it regularly. Here are some of my ideas:

  • Go for a hike, bike ride or a walk around the block together. 
  • Make a meal you know he loves and you haven’t made in a while. 
  • Write him a love note and leave it somewhere you know he will find it. 
  • Plan a candlelight dinner for the two of you after the kids go to bed. (Unless you have teenagers. Then do it while they’re awake and have them serve you dinner. You may have to pay them. That’s okay.)
  • Wear something sexy to bed. 
  • Wear something sexy around the house during the day. My teenage daughter told me to take off the tank top I had under a low-cut sweater yesterday, and I hesitated until she said, “Dad would love it.” OMG. What? 
  • Play chess together. 
  • Find a new series to watch together or re-watch a series you loved a long time ago. 
  • Pray together in the dark before bed. 
  • Leave your phone out of the bedroom. 
  • Light a candle and initiate sex.
  • Go on a drive-through date. Pick up dinner and eat it in your car somewhere with a view. 
  • Write a “Top 10 Things I Love About Your Dad” list and read it in front of your children. 
  • Get dressed up for dinner. 
  • Ask him, “What can I do to help you today?” Smile. And do it.
  • Pick a book that you would both enjoy reading and have your own book club. Read a few chapters then discuss over coffee or your favorite adult beverage.
  • Wake him up in the middle of the night for sex. (Do you hear a theme here? It’s free and fun and you have more time and energy now than you ever will.) 
  • Call his parents.
  • Find an old picture of the two of you that makes you smile and put it on your mirror in your bedroom or bathroom.
  • Kiss him and tell him, “I love you.” If you have kids, don’t be afraid to let them see you and hear you express your love for each other. It gives them an incredible sense of security. 

Well, that’s 20 of the 30 days. Get creative and come up with the other 10 or so that you know your husband will respond to. Then, make a checklist in your journal or on your phone and pick one each night that you’ll plan for the next day.

If you take this challenge, I’d love to know! I’ll even encourage you along the way and send you a surprise when you finish, although the real gift will be the new life in your relationship and the habit you will have developed of loving your husband with creativity and intention. Enjoy! 

10 Things that Don’t Suck about the COVID-19 Pandemic

Things are chaotic and up in the air and a lot of it is an anxiety driven nightmare, but I can’t pretend that I’m not enjoying some things about being endlessly stuck in my house with my family.  Please don’t take this as a way to diminish the really awful things that are happening to families locally and globally, but we need some positive focus too.

Here is my top 10 things that I’m enjoying about effects of this pandemic:

 

1. More family time

With two working parents, spending time with our kids a number one priority when we are home, so it’s been a joy that we are able to have uninterrupted time together (even when it’s awful and I hate everything and they need to go away)

 

2. My hair can grow out

Not to mention how minimal I look all around, but my hair is growing out from a very short style and it looks awful and you will never see it.

 

3. My house is always clean

My house is always clean because my children are in a constant state of destroying it- and what else do I have to do?

 

4. Sex

Number four is sex because no one is too tired at the end of the day.

 

5. No child care bill

I could sing the praises of my kids’ child care all day, but at the end of the moth it is a huge chunk of money gone and right now I don’t have to pay it!

 

6.  Keeping up with hobbies and prayer time

All the mental health lists boast that making hobbies a priority is  step in the positive direction. So what are you doing with your free time? Practicing your ukulele? Lettering? Reading a dense saint biography? Are you keeping up with your daily meditation and P90x routine? Now’s the time.

 

7. Sleeping in

I mean, not really sleeping in (my kids are 1 and 3) but NOT RUSHING to get out the door. And on that note…

 

8. Time

Take the last 2 and include whatever else kind of time you suddenly now have for the things you want or need to do that never happens. Not rushing with a freezer waffle in your hand to get everyone to their morning destinations and not rushing to pick everyone up. Making sure everyone brushes their teeth at bedtime (no, really) and having time for family prayer. Spending the weekend willingly doing yard work because you had your mental allotment of kid time. Time to sit down and write for the collective you’re apart of!

 

9. Good eating

With no rush to get home or get the kids to bed, everything we eat is currently fantastic and from scratch. My current meal plans for this upcoming Holy Week include: pretzels, hot cross buns, lasagna, Italian Easter bread. And I have to be in a constant cooking storm because my children are scavenging little food monsters.

 

10. Better communication

Our own local Fr. Matt Lowry, weeks ago, predicted that this shelter in place would result in everyone actually talking to people they normally didn’t have conversation with. I can account for this myself. In the last three weeks I think I’ve actually called my mom twice. We FaceTime a different relative or friend everyday, people we normally text only or just see at holidays. And it’s not as weird as I used to feel, it’s like I’m a teenager again. Everyone is calling “just because” and everyone seems fine with it.

 

Maybe this was the reset we needed.

 

What positive things can you find about our current situation?

 

Flagstaff Family Neighborhood Egg Hunt

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Flagstaff families may not be able to attend some of our favorite Easter egg hunts this year, but with a little help from our local community, we can go on an Easter egg hunt while still practicing social distancing.

Similar to the ‘bear hunts’ and ‘chalk walks’ we’ve seen popping up in neighborhoods all over America, our egg hunt works best if lots of neighbors (young and old) participate. So, spread the word in your local neighborhood!

How It Works::

Download and print the Easter egg coloring page.

Download The Easter egg coloring page

Decorate your egg any way that you want!

Display your egg(s) in your windows by Wednesday, April 8th. You can also display Spring Decor and Stuffed Toy Bunnies!

Egg Hunt April 9th – 12th

Go on an egg hunt with your family (or by yourself ?) to see how many eggs you can find! *Don’t forget* to take a picture of the beautiful eggs you find and share to the Flagstaff Mom Collective FB thread and tag @flagstaffmoms on social media! Let’s see how many neighborhoods get represented!

Let’s Talk About Guns

One of the most difficult things about being a parent is having to confront real issues and make tough decisions regarding our children’s safety especially when the topic is a highly contested political debate. Let it be known, this is not a political article and does not hold an opinion about gun rights. The intent is to provide a resource to be able to have difficult conversations to help keep your child safe.

I recently contacted Mary Grove, Group Be SMART lead of Flagstaff Volunteers of AZ Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and asked if she would be able to help answer some common guns safety questions as well as give some advice on how to approach the topic with other families. Ms. Grove graciously offered logical solutions to real life examples and put forth applicable tools that can help us all have these conversations with confidence. I believe these questions and answers can be applied to any topic of safety concern when warranted, whether it be the concern of possible drug use and/or paraphernalia, guns, storing of household cleaning supplies and other topics.

Question: “How do parents approach the topic of guns with other parents without assuming or offending?”

Answer:“I think the key here is to make it part of a general safety conversation. If a child is                                going to spend time at another person’s home, their parents would certainly let the                                              other person know if their child has allergies or is afraid of animals. They might also ask                                  if the person has a fence around a pool or similar concerns, and then as a natural part of                    the conversation bring up the question about firearms in the home and how they are                                        stored.”              

Question: “How do parents respectfully ask gun owner parents how they store their guns and how do parents know when the storage is safe and responsible?”

Answer: “Parents can ask more questions to confirm safe storage practices. Safe storage includes three methods: unloading the ammunition, locking the firearm, and storing each in separate secure locations.”

Question: “How do parents approach a situation with a gun owner parent that we are uncomfortable with?”

Answer: “This depends on why the parent is uncomfortable with the gun owner parents. If it is                                  just because they are gun owners, the conversation might be easier to begin with in a                                        text or email. It could be sandwiched in among other questions and information, again                                 as part of a general safety conversation.”

Questions: “How do we talk to our young children about gun safety or even broach the topic of guns at all? What is age appropriate?”

Answer: “It’s important to remember that keeping children safe from unauthorized and unsupervised access to firearms is always the adult’s responsibility. However, since we don’t live in a perfect world (research shows that 4.6 million children live in homes with guns that are not responsibly stored), parents may need guidance on how to talk to children about what to do if they find an unsecured gun. The resource Talking to Your Children about Guns has separate tips for talking to young children and talking to teens. For all ages, it suggests talking to your children frequently as you would about other critical safety concerns. An important point made on the factsheet is that talking to children about guns is only a precaution. It doesn’t guarantee safety.”

Question: “How do we talk to our young children if we are uncomfortable with our child being at a special friend’s house due to gun safety concerns?”

Answer: “When it comes to keeping children from access to firearms, this one is always on                                         parents and adult caregivers. If you’ve had the conversation about safe storage with your child’s special friend’s parent and are not convinced that guns in their home are secured, be honest about this with the other parent and make sure they understand the reason you won’t allow your child in their home. You can suggest that your child’s friend come to your house instead or that you all meet somewhere else. When a child’s safety is at stake, this is the only answer. A helpful example of this is scripted in the Asking About Secure Gun Storage handout. Bottom line–it’s the parent’s responsibility to have a conversation with the adults in the home. If the parent isn’t comfortable with the answers they get from the adult, the child shouldn’t play there.”

Question: “Is there anything else you think parents should know or other Questions we should be asking?”

Answer: “Just remember the conversation is about guns, safety and kids. Everyone is concerned                                        about the safety of children. The following experience proves the point. I was tabling at event, and a father who was a gun owner came by with his two young daughters. He was particularly struck by one of the statistics I had posted on my Be SMART trifold display– 4.6 million children live in a household with at least one loaded, unlocked gun. He said his guns were secured, but he never thought to question his friends, also gun owners, about how they stored their firearms. Since the families in his group frequently got together in each other’s homes, he decided on the spot that it was an important topic to bring up the next time they all got together, especially since they all were                               parents of young children. For him, protecting his daughters was more important than anything else in his life. He took some of the Be SMART cards for his friends.”

I’ve learned from my conversations with Mary Grove that it is our responsibility as parents to have these tough conversations which may be uncomfortable in our effort to ensure the safety of our children. These are not unreasonable questions to have answers to and the more of us who ask them, the more commonplace they become. This will only provide more confidence and safety for all of us.

RESOURCES:

Be SMART for Kids webpage. This campaign of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America makes use of the SMART framework to educate adults about the life and death need for responsible gun storage. The Be SMART program is for gun owners and non-gun owners alike. Its purpose is to normalize the conversations about gun safety and get adults to take actions that could save lives. The acronym SMART reminds people of the steps needed to prevent unintentional child gun deaths.

Secure all guns in your homes and vehicles

Model responsible behavior around guns

Ask about the presence of unsecured guns in other homes

Recognize the role of guns in suicide

Tell your peers to be SMART

Another source of information for my answers were other members of our local Flagstaff Be SMART team and our AZ Be SMART Lead. Team members table at local events. We can also give a 20-minute presentation entitled “Be SMART: A conversation about kids, guns, and safety.” The Be SMART for Kids Facebook page is also a good source of information about the whys and how of this public education campaign. 

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In + Around Flagstaff

Visiting Flagstaff for Summer 2020 – 5 Things to Know

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Tourism time has once again returned to Flagstaff. Even in the midst of a global pandemic our little mountain town is still seeing visitors....