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].

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.

The ABC’s of Camping with Little Kids

 

A – ACCEPT that there is a lot of work involved in camping with littles. Acquiesce to the fact that, unlike the carefree trips of your youth, it will be a bit exhausting (because now you get to do all the work your parents did, and your kids are the carefree ones!). The adventure is still out there, it’s just a different kind.

B – BE PREPARED for every eventuality. Over-pack because nothing spells misery for you like a miserable kid in the woods.

C – CHECKLIST check. Make a list and shop ahead of time to avoid stress. Methodically check off items on your list.

The first time my husband and I took my daughter camping, she was seven months old. We were anxious to go because my third-trimester pregnancy the previous summer had more or less precluded camping while I was feeling so uncomfortable. That first camping trip with an infant was a major feat. It took a lot of prep to ensure her happiness and safety while we ventured off the grid. We had to bring an incredible amount of water – enough to clean bottles and breast pump parts. The entire spring was unbelievably cold, so we toted along a propane heater to make sure our baby would be warm. My husband built a mini-crib to prevent her from rolling anywhere unsafe. I had to accept that each night, after putting the baby to bed, I wouldn’t get to relax under starlight right away – instead I had to sit in the car with my breast pump while my husband and friends hung out by the fire. It was exhausting. But not even a month later, we turned around and went camping again. And then again. Now this year we have been able to go camping with her as a toddler. Her needs are different, but the amount of work hasn’t changed, and we still had to operate around her schedule to maintain a happy, balanced toddler attitude.

My daughter in front of our tent.

I wouldn’t give up a second of any of those trips. Watching my daughter interact with the natural world, spending quality bonding time, making art out of pinecones, snuggling in sleeping bags, splashing in streams, playing in the rain… all moments made possible by camping. But my absolute favorite? Feeling like a supermom hiking her around to so many different places. My crowning moment was when she got hungry during a hike back from Delicate Arch. I nursed her while she was strapped to my body as I hiked down that giant slab in approaching twilight. I had a feeling like I was capable of anything, and I was joyously reliving her megawatt smiles that I witnessed against the backdrop of one of my favorite places. These are precious moments that I will never forget, that give me the conviction to say, I’m going to continue giving myself and my daughter these experiences as she grows up.

This brings me back to the ABC’s of camping, which can set you up for success while adventuring with your littles.

children explore the outdoors
Happer Camper coffee mug
Percolators and dutch oven over the fire
kids and smores

A) If you ACCEPT beforehand the amount of work involved in camping with little kids, and that things probably won’t go exactly as planned (because kids, the weather, swarms of bugs, diaper blowouts, and many other things are unpredictable), then you will set your expectations in the right place. Having realistic expectations is important for feeling like you had a fun, successful trip. Acquiescing to the fact that it is tiring (because it takes more effort to put excited kids down for a nap, to make meals out of messy camping bins, or to pack up a bag for a day hike with prepped bottles and a mountain of items for diapering) and that things may not go according to plan will help you roll with the punches a little easier.

B) I cannot emphasize enough that BEING PREPARED is a key to unlocking the best kind of experience when camping with littles. Gone are the days of “Let’s go camping tomorrow!” and voila, you’re packed and ready in less than an hour without caring about what you forgot as long as you have extra socks. Planning ahead will greatly increase your chances of successfully pulling off a camping trip that you and your little one(s) enjoy. This means grocery shopping ahead of time, prepping meals beforehand to make life infinitely easier while you are camping (you have a million duties when it comes to little kids – being able to throw something on your campfire or portable grill will expedite everyone’s happiness). Chop vegetables ahead of time, make breakfast burritos and freeze them to keep other items in your cooler chilled, pre-boil any noodles, bake easy banana muffins, etc. Dedicate one night on the weekend before your trip to do meal prep, and you will thank yourself 1000x over while you are camping. Go shopping (whether in-store or online) the week before to make sure you have everything you need instead of having to stop on your way to your destination, thereby adding additional car time and grumpiness to your child’s attitude. Fill your propane, get your biodegradable soaps and toilet paper, and knock out all your errands ahead of time. Which brings me to the final point.

C) Make a CHECKLIST. On my first trip out with my daughter, I forgot an important item. My friends camping with us asked, “Well, was it on the list?” Nope, it wasn’t. Their response: “Well if it’s not on the list, how are you supposed to remember to bring it?” I now have a living document (meaning a dynamic document that is constantly edited and updated) on Google Sheets that is called “Packing Lists”. The baby has a list. My husband and I have a list. The dog has a list. On each person’s (or dog’s!) list are a categorical breakdown of other lists for different types of trips (e.g., my daughter has categorical lists for clothing, sleeping, playing, diapering, feeding, camping, and flying). Every time someone remembers something else to add, it immediately is put onto our living list so whatever it isn’t forgotten next time. Every trip we take, we only have to refer to the lists already made and don’t need to put much thought into it because the work has already been done! This is one of my absolute favorite things, and it takes a lot of the stress out of camping. To help get you jump-started, see the printable Baby and Toddler Camping Checklist on this post.

FREE PRINTABLE: Baby and Toddler Camping Checklist

Camping with little kids isn’t for the faint of heart. You must be committed to the fun you know you can have while you’re out adventuring in the wild, whether it’s immediate or retroactive (yes, there is more than one type of fun). You must be committed to the all the preparations beforehand and the work that goes into it while you’re out there so your little ones can be comfortable and everyone can be happy campers.

You don’t need to convince yourself it’s worth it. It totally, utterly is. The adventure awaits!

Lazy Meal Planning for Busy Families

I’ve been documenting my meal planning for the last few years trying to unlock the secret to making it quick and headache-free. Currently, my family has been using this formula, and while it’s quite broad, it does help to narrow down a household of opinions.

Monday: Soup Night!

Soup, stew or curry

Current favorites include zuppa tuscana, garden quinoa soup, pineapple curry, and dumpling stew, West African Peanut Stew, tamale pie.

Tuesday: Hispanic or Asian inspired

Yes, my broadest day of the week, but these are the communities I grew up with and the foods are a comfort (and a hit!)

Current favorites: Chilaquiles, Taco Tuesday or sweet potato and black bean enchiladas; Pancit, pad see ew, stir fry or fried rice.

Wednesday: It’s Italian 

I’m Sicilian so my culture gets its own reoccurring night. How would this night look for your family?

Current rotation: Spaghetti, pesto, ravioli or pasta salad.

Thursday: Salad night

To be honest, I hate salad, but this is my attempt at making healthy positive changes for myself and my family. Jazz it up how you like. Don’t get bored.

This week: Taco salad.

Friday: Rice and beans or leftovers

We use Fridays to be penitent and mindful of what we have that others don’t.

Current rotation: Beans and rice burritos, beans and rice with veggies, leftovers thrown in a tortilla or with eggs.

Saturday and Sunday: It’s the weekend!

Something a little bit bigger and a little more special that takes more time to throw together. BBQ, casseroles, Sunday gravy, lasagna, moussaka or take out! This week my kids chose breakfast for dinner for Saturday followed by Diablo Burger for Sunday.

What system do you use for meal planning?

Cultures are Not Costumes: How to Avoid cultural Appropriation this Halloween

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Every Halloween season there is a fresh new controversy over what is or isn’t an appropriate costume. What is cultural appropriation? It’s complex and confusing, to say the least.

Let’s start with a definition:

Wikipedia says that “Cultural appropriation is the adoption of elements of a minority culture by members of the dominant culture. Because of the presence of power imbalances that are a byproduct of colonialism and oppression, cultural appropriation is distinct from an equal cultural exchange.”

Cambridge dictionary defines it as “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.”

So it is NOT black and white. This isn’t easy. Intent, knowledge, respect and power imbalance all play a part in defining something as appropriation.

Avoid appropriation this Halloween:

Is the costume a culture, ethnicity, or stereotype?

These are always disrespectful. This includes dressing as a Gypsy, Native-American, person of color, Mexican, Muslim, Catholic, if the costume says “urban” on it. ANYTHING that involves stereotyping a group of people is not an acceptable Halloween costume. BUT there is an exception to this rule. If you yourself are of native decent and you chose to wear the traditional regalia of your people that is obviously fine. Intent and power imbalance are important.

Does the costume involve anything sacred?

The sacred should always be off limits. Do your research. Unless it is your culture you may not wear a feather headdress or a bindi, and you may not paint your face like Calaveras (Mexican sugar skulls.)

Is the costume a specific non-fictional person?

This is a grey area and intent and power balance play important roles here. If you or your child is dressing as a historical figure they should be doing so with respect. The costume should not be a caricature that exploits stereotypes, should not involve hairstyles or accessories that are significant to marginalized peoples and it should not EVER involve blackface.

So what is an OK costume?

Unicorns, ghosts, vampires, super heroes, space aliens, wizards, just about anything imaginary. Fictional characters and fantastic beasts are safe with a few exceptions. What if your kid wants to be Moana or Jasmine? Because these are specific fictional characters dressing as them is not exactly cultural appropriation. But, because they represent marginalized peoples, it’s not really an ideal costume for a child who is not a member of the marginalized group. If you can’t talk your kid out of it, make sure that you are really sensitive about the costume and do your best to be tasteful about it. Just do your research.

Happy Halloween!

An Inclusive Halloween

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We have recently joined the world of food allergies and restrictions. We are facing our first Halloween since the diagnoses. While I was aware of the Teal Pumpkin Project and the idea of offering safe and non-food items for trick-or-treaters, it’s obviously become a lot more important to me now.

Food restrictions can be isolating for anyone, but especially for kids. I didn’t realize how much food is integrated into kids activities until we were faced with trying to let our kids participate in a safe way. Birthdays, school parties, social events and holidays- like Halloween.  If you’re not in this situation with your kid, you may not realize the planning, preparation and bandwidth that food restrictions take up in a parent’s mind. If your child’s health depends on what they eat- or don’t eat- your energy is going to both keeping them safe but also trying to let them be kids and to enjoy “normal” things other kids can do. By making your house safe for kids with food restrictions on Halloween, you can help take some of that load off of another parent’s shoulders, even for an evening.

The Teal Pumpkin Project advocates offering non-food items for trick-or-treaters.  Ideas include stickers, temporary tattoos, pencils, glow sticks. These items are usually available in multi-packs at the dollar store. I also shop the clearance after Halloween and stock up, then I sock those things away for the following year.

There are also lots of candies that avoid the 8 most common allergens (milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy) that account for 90% of food allergies.  Starburst, skittles, dum dums, nerds all fit that bill.

This is also a great opportunity to model compassion and community to kids. Food allergy and celiac families did not choose this, and it means the world for others to consider our families in planning celebrations. I never, ever expect someone to go out of their way to accommodate us, but it is so meaningful when they do. What if kids learned Halloween is more than just a chance to dress up and gorge on candy, it’s also a chance to look out for other kids and make sure everyone can have fun?

It’s not an all-or-nothing game, either.  You can have a bowl of whatever candy you prefer, one of top 8 allergen-free candy, and some non-food treats. Making Halloween more inclusive doesn’t mean giving up your family’s traditions, it just means making it a fun night where all kids can just be kids.

 

 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

 

Most of us probably know someone who had, has, or died from breast cancer. That is because approximately 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. While breast cancer risk does vary by age and race/ethnicity, a woman’s risk of breast cancer nearly doubles if she has a first-degree relative (i.e. mother, sister or daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. This is why family history is one of the well-established risk factors for breast cancer.

My first introduction to breast cancer was when I was about 7 years old. My mother’s older sister in her early 40’s was diagnosed with an illness, which I later learned was breast cancer. At the time I had no clue what cancer was, but I learned that cancer makes people bald. I found this out when I visited my aunt one day and she forgot to put on her wig as she answered the door. At the time I didn’t know how deadly cancer was, but I learned that cancer kills people who were previously healthy. I found this out when I was told that I won’t be able to see my aunt again.

Losing my aunt to breast cancer fueled my own interest in learning the molecular and cell biology of cancer cells. It also prompted me to urge my mother to get screened for breast cancer by having regular mammograms. While breast cancer screening can’t prevent breast cancer, the hope is that it will find breast cancer early when it is easier to treat, and before it is big enough to cause symptoms. My mother resisted breast cancer screening for many years – “If it [breast cancer] is going to kill me, it’s going to kill me no matter what I do.” Her fatalistic attitude was the unfortunate result of watching her sister lose her battle to breast cancer in her mid-40’s.

I was finally able to change her mind when my physician husband and I sat her down one night and talked to her about having control over her health. Her belief that ‘cancer is a death sentence’ served as a barrier to help-seeking, and we felt that an intervention was necessary to improve her understanding of cancer risk, reduce pessimism in regard to cancer, and help her feel more empowered. We also kindly reminded her that there are grandchildren who would like to continue visiting her. I am not sure what finally clicked, but it doesn’t matter because she agreed to get screened regularly.

Besides family history, another significant risk factor that accounts for 5-10% of breast cancer is pathogenic (disease-causing) gene mutations inherited from one’s parent. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the most common and most studied breast cancer susceptibility genes. You might have heard of these genes because a famous actress named Angelina Jolie disclosed in 2013 that she was a BRCA1 mutation carrier and had undergone a risk-reducing bilateral mastectomy. I am grateful for the ‘Angelina Jolie’ effect, which refers to the spike in genetic tests for breast cancer after her public disclosure. I understand that genetic testing may not be right for everybody and the tests may not provide definitive answers for some people. Nonetheless, genetic tests may help some women (and men!) make informed choices for their bodies and perhaps prepare them for helping their children cope with their genetic information.

As a former cancer researcher myself, I often wondered whether I should get genetic testing done to find out if my lifetime risk of breast cancer is higher than that of the average population. To this date, I have not gotten the courage to order the genetic test because I am not ready to handle the physical and emotional impacts of knowing my genetic status. While having (or not having) breasts doesn’t (and won’t) define me, I recognize that prophylactic mastectomy is a difficult choice to accept – even for those at high risk for breast cancer who wants to dramatically lower their risk. I yearn for the day when we learn about a less invasive, less traumatic, and less permanent breast cancer prevention option than prophylactic mastectomy that comparably reduces the risk.

A Letter to my Baby on what would have been Her Due Date

October!

Fall, leaves changing, cooler temps, football, Halloween; and a few very important awareness ’causes.’ Everyone knows about Breast Cancer Awareness, but did you know there are 96 other ‘national’ months?! (according to National Day Calendar, yes I counted)

One of those 96 is very near and dear to my heart. October is also National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. Here’s the thing, it’s taboo to talk about any sort of death. Loss of this kind can be a silent death – not like when an elder or a peer dies, many times couples hadn’t even shared the news that they were expecting a baby. The statistic of 1 in 4 women has got to be higher… right?… 1 in 3 maybe. Pregnancy loss is not selective, recently Chrissy Teigan announced that she and hubby John Legend experienced the loss of their third child. It’s difficult, losing a baby at any stage.

When my husband and I went through the agony of loss the first time (more than a decade ago!) I wrote a short letter to our child on what should have been her due date. It’s a little scary sharing this with people I’ve never met. But, I know that I am not alone in my loss or how I felt, and if this can help one more momma cope with her loss, it was worth it.

 

Side note

While I did experience another loss after the one this letter was to, I do have two wonderful (talk to me on a good day), children that were born after this time period. The term Rainbow baby is used for those children born after a loss, and they truly are the promise and the light after the storm.

 

Dearest Little One

 Jan 27, 2009

 Dear Sweet Baby

 Today was supposed to be your due date. I didn’t ever make it to either of your big sisters’ due dates, so I am sure that you would have been here by now, but today was officially when you were due. Mommy misses you! Your sisters and Daddy do too! We miss not getting to know who you were and what you looked like. We miss the things that come with a new baby, first foods, and first smiles and first steps. I wonder if you would look like your oldest sister (and your mommy) or if you would like your next older sister (and Daddy) or if you would have looked like a blend.

 I know that you are safe in Jesus’ arms, and that’s the best place to be… I do hope that He has let your great-grandma hold you and that she has told you wonderful stories of your Daddy.

 I hope that someday you will have a little brother or sister that we can tell about you. Your big sisters know that you were such a special baby, and they are both good big sisters and ask about you often. You have taken a piece of Mommy’s heart, and I won’t ever forget you.

 I am sad that we had to say goodbye to you so early. God has a plan though, and He knows what’s best, so Mommy is trusting Him in that. 

 Mommy loves and misses you, baby

A few afterthoughts

…Read this article: An open Letter to me going through a Miscarriage

…If you’ve been through it, I feel your pain. If you haven’t, count yourself blessed. If you are going through it, find someone’s shoulder to cry on!

…Accept help! It may be hard to ask, but if someone offers a meal or to wash your dishes or do your laundry – let them!

…Keep a box of “your baby.” Our hospital gave us a Polaroid of our girl, and I have a few other odds and ends in a box (the recording of her memorial service, a handkerchief I was given, a few other things) that I can get out every so often to feel like there is something tangible to remember her by.

…Find things to remember your baby with. All it takes is a little internet search to find people who will make mementos for you. It’s part of the grieving/ healing process. Our babies are remembered through their names written in sand and pictures taken at sunset (a beautiful soul from Australia does them, though currently, she is on pause due to COVID – her website is http://theseashoreofremembrance.blogspot.com/2011/05/purchase-seashore-dedication.html )

 

My skincare routine: How washing my face makes me happy

I want to tell you it gets easier

I guess because my girls are now in high school and college, other moms come to me, almost out of breath, pleading with me, “Tell me it gets easier.” If we are face to face (rare these days, but still), I smile at her with her toddlers running circles around her and her baby strapped to her body for safekeeping, I take a deep breath and think, “I want to tell you it gets easier, but girl, you have no idea.” And then I think again and form words that I hope are not only honest but encouraging. 

Those baby/toddler years were rough for me. I do not do well when I’m off my rhythm, much less trying to nurse an infant in the middle of the night and get life done between feedings. Multiply that times five in six years and that season of life for me was, needless to say, exhausting. Don’t get me wrong. I’m so grateful that I was entrusted with five baby girls, but that season of constant demand was rough. So, mommas of tiny littles, I see you. Take lots of pictures. It doesn’t last long. They are so precious, and while they may drive you to the edge with tantrums, “Why?”, potty training, and sleepless nights, it’s a fairly repetitive, manageable season of life. 

Then my youngest started kindergarten, and I thought I could see the heavens open up and a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Some moms were crying as they dropped their kids off at kindergarten. Me? I couldn’t book a manicure and a coffee date, join a tennis league and get a part-time job quickly enough. I just needed a few hours a day to myself to recharge, remember who I was before becoming a mom and get on top of the housework without littles un-doing it. Sounds blissful to you preschool mommies, I know. But then they brought home dioramas and the stomach flu (times five), needed costumes and braces, and got bullied on the playground. There were swimming lessons and oboe lessons and soccer games and birthday parties and a never-ending list of places to go and things to do. For me, that season was easier than diapers and nursing and sleepless nights, but it required more mental engagement, coordination, and creativity. It was hard, but it was fun. 

And then the pre-teen years hit, and I expected the independence they were experimenting with to make my life a little easier.

After all, they could get their own snack, make their own lunch, do their own laundry–thank you, Jesus. These were also the years we would see their personalities, skills, and friendships begin to take shape. But there were hormones and attitudes and discipline issues that required more than a quick fix or a time out. We ran into some serious health issues with one of our girls, and our marriage wasn’t getting enough attention, and it showed. But we hung on. Surely it would get easier.

Right now, we have three in college and two in high school, and if it doesn’t bankrupt us with car insurance, beauty products, travel softball, auto repairs, prom dresses, wisdom teeth, and school expenses, we will have lived to tell about it. We realize that it’s date night when all the girls are out of the house at work or practice or something, and we jump in the car and go. And honestly, it is the sweetest season of them all. Each season of parenting has its challenges and its blessings, but as I catch glimpses of each of them as grown women, I can only whisper another, “Thank you, Jesus.” They may argue with us about politics and religion, but they are thoughtful and passionate young women of conviction. They may wreck the car, then wreck another one, but they are hard-working and responsible. They may come home crying about the last conversation they had with a roommate or a boyfriend, but they are loving and tenderhearted. This is what makes the hard years worth it.

Does it get easier? Not really. But is it worth it? Absolutely. 

An Open Letter to Me Going Through a Miscarriage

Here are the things that I wish I could have heard from myself or those around me, or the things that people did say or do that were enormously healing or validating.


“This grief is real. I know society doesn’t like to accept this kind of grief. Please don’t apologize or try to minimize your feelings.”

“These feelings may be strange to you; you may not understand why you’re feeling the way you are. It helps to just say how you feel and not worry about interpreting those emotions. This is such a confusing time for your body and your mind. It helps to accept that you’re confused all around.”

“I will help you. I will help you get through this. What do you need to get through this? What will help you to feel better right now? I won’t judge.”

“Please come over to my house and I will cook a meal for you and your husband and then I can pray for your baby and your family.”

“I won’t let you feel alone. Let me hold you while you sob so you can feel all those big feelings and I won’t let you feel alone. It can be so comforting to know that someone is holding onto you physically while you trek an enormously treacherous emotional path.”

“Your tears, your grief, your sadness, your anger, your regret, are all welcome here. No questions asked. You are safe here.”

“It’s okay to laugh and be happy and enjoy yourself. Please don’t feel guilty when you feel good. It’s the heart’s way of healing. I know it can be hard to accept that you even want healing, but allow it to happen. There’s no point in extending your suffering.”

“Don’t force yourself to feel ok. It doesn’t feel good to ignore a migraine or a hunger pain. You have to feel it in order to take care of it. This is the same. Tell everyone and their mother to let you grieve.”

“You’re not crazy. These feelings are normal and ok. You can talk to a therapist if you feel like that could be a good coping tool for you. Talking to a therapist does not make you crazy. Your feelings are valid.”


Not everyone is going to “get it.” They’ll say dumb and hurtful and ignorant things. Because they’ve never gone through this, or because they have and they’re repeating what someone said to them. It’s okay to not give these people details. You can just tell them you’re grieving a loss, or that your baby died in a miscarriage. It can be so helpful to come up with a phrase you can tell yourself and other people not close to you what happened. Something simple that honors your truth – think Collateral Beauty (eg: my baby died in a miscarriage. Her name was Poppy October. She was only 4 weeks old).

When considering a subsequent pregnancy: This is a deeply personal decision to be made by you and your partner (with your care provider’s ok). Some feel the need to wait until their angel baby’s due date passes. Others need much longer. Some don’t want to wait at all. if you decide to move forward with conceiving again, try to take the pressure off. Stop tracking your cycles for a while. Just be. See how that feels. You can always change your mind later.

Pregnancy after loss is incredibly difficult. The naiveté is lost. Much of the excitement is replaced by anxiety and met with guarded responses from friends and family. Find a support group. People who know this unique struggle and who can sympathize with all the little nuances that pregnancy after a loss can bring. Be honest within your support group, your care provider, and yourself. Give yourself the extra grace; nothing about this journey is easy for you anymore. I’m so incredibly sorry about that.

It’s normal to feel huge jealousy for other pregnant people or moms with kids. Try to tell yourself that you don’t know their story, and they could be experiencing a loss right now or one that happened years ago. These kids or that bump could be their miracle rainbow baby they’ve hoped for many years. Give yourself space if you need it from your pregnant friends and family members. You do know their story, and that can make it really hard to sympathize with their pregnancy aches and pains and anxieties. Don’t force yourself to do that. But try to stay friends and invest in your relationship some way – you need each other.

Plug into your loss community locally. Northen Arizona Healthcare provides a list of online support platforms HERE and some offer local meeting groups – just search your area. Locally, Flagstaff has a wonderful support group, The JLB Project, and they have online support as well as the beautiful Children’s Garden in Foxglenn Park that you can walk and remember your little one. They also host an event annually called the Walk to Remember where you can submit your baby’s name to be read aloud and placed on a piece of paper marking the path. Hearing your baby’s name said aloud by someone else is such a validating beautiful experience as is seeing it written next to so many angel babies’ names. Walking as families together remembering our loss and feeling the continued grief and standing in solidarity is so healing.

Get out your emotions creatively. Choreograph a dance. Paint some art for your wall to see and remember every day. Get a tattoo. Design a memory locket necklace. Journal. Write and perform a slam poetry piece. Write a song. Put together a memory box or slideshow of pictures of you with your little one or bump.

You can do this. You are so much stronger than you’ve ever known, and this experience will teach you just how resilient you are.

It’s okay not to be okay.

I think of your baby often. What’s their name? What do you remember most about them?

I’m here for you. You’re not alone. I love you.


About Karli Haviland

Karli is a Flagstaff local mom and birth worker. She is the mom to two babes, one angel baby Poppy October, and her rainbow baby Moira Wonder (13 months old) and stays at home with Mo. She’s involved with the Flagstaff community as a birth doula, photographer, dancer, and choreographer. She loves coffee dates, hiking, sushi, and talking all things birth and babies. You can connect with her on Instagram @momma_haviland.

 

Guide to Fall Color in Flagstaff

Drive around town and you know…fall has come to Flagstaff, Arizona.

It’s been playing peek-a-boo with us for awhile now, and amateur photographers everywhere (including myself) are walking up and down the city streets capturing the beautiful changes taking place.

The color transition is well underway. And honestly, I’m not trusting that whole “mid- to late-October” guesstimate for “peak color.” It got cold…fast…and you can already enjoy fall color in and around Flagstaff.

Some of my favorite local spots include:

Duck Lake

If you drive past the Continental Country Club Driving Range, you’ll stumble upon two man-made lakes, known as Duck Lake.

A stroller-friendly sidewalk lines the lakes, and its surrounding trees are already transforming from summer green into deep shades of fall, including sunburst orange, deep gold and bright yellow. The picturesque setting also features unobstructed views of Mt. Elden.

Hart’s Prairie 

Located at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, you can reach Hart’s Prairie via FR 151 (Hart Prairie Road). The (sometimes rough) dirt road is actually a loop off Hwy 180, and it will take you through spectacular groves of sky-high aspen trees.

It’s perfect for a picnic or fall camping trip!

Heritage Square

Downtown Flagstaff is lined with beautiful trees each casting a different shade of yellow, gold and red. Heritage Square is surrounded by them, making it a perfect spot to stop, relax and enjoy a coffee.

NAU

The gorgeous campus, especially the historic North Campus, abounds with fall color. A weekend stroll around campus will give you the perfect fall fix. Plus, walking alongside young college kids will help remind you of how very, very old you are. Haha!

Hwy 89 to Sedona

This drive does. Not. Disappoint.

Hwy 89 from Flagstaff to Sedona (and then back again), will show you colors you’d only previously dreamed about. As you change elevations, mother nature treats you to one of her most spectacular shows. The overlook atop Hwy 89’s switchbacks is worth the stop, as is making time to explore Oak Creek.

Not sure when to explore fall in Flagstaff?

The Flagstaff Convention & Visitor’s Bureau constantly updates its website LEAFometer, featuring popular tourist attractions such as Arizona Snowbowl, The Arboretum, Inner Basin and more.

No matter where you explore…just make sure you decide to enjoy a little fall in Flagstaff!

Much Love – H

Be sure to tag us in your social media posts of the Fall colors! We want to see the beauty through your lens.

5 SIMPLE Sensory Activities for October

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SENSORY PLAY is a bit of a buzz word these days. Some of you might be familiar with it and already do it and others might wonder what it actually is and why we do it. Let me break it down simply.

The definition of Sensory play is ANY activity that stimulates a child’s senses: touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing. Through this sensory play they get to explore and use scientific thinking all while having fun. The importance of sensory play CANNOT be underestimated. By encouraging the use of a child’s senses through play, you support their cognitive growth, language development, as well as their gross and fine motor skills (side note: they might actually leave alone for 5 minutes, score!).
Now you’ve probably seen those moms on Instagram that come up with incredibly intricate and beautifully detailed sensory activities and my hat goes off to them! They are doing amazing things! But most of us don’t have the time or resources to put that much effort into these activities. I go by a simple rule if it takes MORE time to set it up then they will play with it, I’m out!
So here my dear friends are five SIMPLE activities you can do with one bag of mini pumpkins found at your local grocery store. Set up for each is less than 5 minutes and should give you much longer than that in engagement!

The Pumpkin Bath

This one is probably the easiest to set up and should give your little one tons of entertainment. Here’s what you do 1. place your pumpkins in a bin of some sort 2. Add soap and water 3. Provide a cleaning brush of some kind and that’s it! You’ll be pleasantly surprised how content they will be to “clean the pumpkins” over and over again.

Pumpkin Painting

All you need is your pumpkins, paint, some brushes and a safe place to do it. If you head to Pinterest you’ll find a ton of creative ways to paint a pumpkin but you can just keep it basic and let the kid(s) go to town.
Side note: if paint mess scares you, substitute with stickers and BOOM you got another easy activity.

Pumpkin stamping

Ok this one is basically the reverse of the above. Instead of painting the pumpkin you use the pumpkin to paint. Gather some paper (or paper plates) let the child dip the pumpkins in paint and place them around their paper as desired. Fall art complete, Happy Halloween Grandma!

Pumpkin color sort

For this one you want to gather objects and toys around the house in “fall colors” think red, yellow, orange, brown, and even black (for that Halloween twist). Place them all in a bin together. Than have your child take them out and place them either in bowls or on top of colored construction paper and sort by colors (or just let them play with the objects, my kid can’t be the only one who loves placing things in and out of containers).

Spin and learn

For this one you’re going to want to use a permanent marker to write on those fun little bumps of the pumpkins. For younger ones you can put shapes or colors on them. For older ones sight words or math facts. The kids “spin” the pumpkin and name what they see. For older children they can write the answers down on paper. I used this one in my teaching days and the students LOVED it, anything that gives learning a new “twist”.

Want more?

Heres what I love about sensory play, once people realize how simple it can be and yet SUCH meaningful learning comes from it, they want more! If that’s you, pintrest and instagram have inspiration for days to keep your kids learning and give you a moment to finish your coffee while it’s still hot! Let the learning commence and Happy Fall Y’all!

Peering Behind the Mask – Reviving Eye Communication in 2020

“The eyes don’t lie.”

“The eyes are the  windows to the soul.”

There are endless old adages about eyes, and so many are related to communication and what we perceive in others. That’s because eye communication is a real thing. Ever simply traded a look with someone close to you, and it spoke volumes even though not a word was uttered? There is a vast amount of communication to be exchanged by looking into someone else’s eyes. Humans can detect minute changes in another’s eye expressions, and this small form of body language communicates a wealth of information. It’s just biology – in a world where communication and socialization are important to survival and well-being, we have evolved to be able to communicate incredibly well using our eyes.

Those old adages were born from truth, and so just like the saying goes, “the eyes don’t lie.” Direct eye contact reveals our thoughts and feelings, and it has many purposes. It shows confidence, helps us to understand others more deeply, to bond more intensely by creating empathetic emotions, and allows us to communicate simultaneously during a conversation instead of having to wait for a turn to speak. Modern times have procured a proclivity for a more indirect form of communication – usually on our phones or computers – and now eye contact is seemingly in short supply. In an era of texting and social media, eye contact might feel nearly irrelevant as we’re all hiding behind the privacy of our screens. We are becoming less accustomed to looking into each other’s eyes to speak, and in-person interactions can degrade into an exercise of looking anywhere but into another person’s eyes. Awkward exchanges occur while passing other people in hallways or aisles, and eyes are averted to our phones instead. In reality, eye contact and a nod or a smile would have been a genuine way to say hello and establish a social connection.

Now, we are also in an era where wearing masks in public places is a completely normal thing to do. It’s impossible to look at someone else’s mouth while they are talking – if we want to find visual cues that reveal a person’s feelings or tone during a conversation, we are forced to look at their eyes. Are there crinkles surrounding them, displaying a person’s smile beneath his mask? Are they unfocused, betraying the fact that your colleague isn’t fully invested in the conversation? Are they heavy-lidded, showing how tired your friend is after enduring months of pandemic stress? Recently, my daughter had a well check that included getting shots at the end of the visit. I tried to prepare her for them, but she is still young and did not fully understand that I was telling her someone was purposefully going to do something that would cause her pain. She was wearing a mask, and all I could see of her sweet face were her bright, little eyes. I laid her back, the nurse gave her a shot, and immediately giant tears welled up and she stared at me with the most accusing, hurt expression in her eyes – Mommy, why did you let that happen to me? If I had been able to see her whole face, I might have missed all the things she was telling me with those eyes. But because I could only see her eyes, my empathetic understanding for her pain and feelings of betrayal were magnified, and it was a real gut punch.

The eyes have an incredible amount to say, and using this masked-up time to practice direct eye contact could help us re-learn just how much this small form of body language allows us to communicate.

Father talks to upset child
Father eases attitude of upset child
Father makes upset child smile
Father reaches child with communication

Most importantly, practicing eye contact at home with our children helps us advance their social skills and especially establishes deeper connections with them. Looking into our children’s eyes is helpful for us as adults, too, because of those mirrored feelings of empathy we get when looking into another’s eyes. It’s easier to maintain our cool and experience feelings of love during tough parenting moments if we are looking our children directly in the eyes. Hopefully, our children will reciprocate this – the loving emotion they see in our eyes – and an awesome cycle of love and empathy are created. Whether idealistic or realistic, it never hurts to try our best to establish these kinds of connections, whether at home with our families, at work with our colleagues, or at the store with strangers. You never know who you’ll affect in a positive way by just using eye language.

Female friendships: Lucy in search of her Ethel after 30

We’ve all had our fair share of friends throughout our lives, those from our childhood and various aspects of our lives. What can be difficult is maintaining friendships through adulthood, it’s tough, you start creating pathways that may not be what is happening in their lives, the reliability loosens and withers away and one day you realize it’s been months since you last talked to them. Your twenties begin dwindling away and before you know it, life hits you with the big 3-0. At this point in my life, I couldn’t fill up a bike booze cruise if I wanted too. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some friendless vagrant, I have friends, but we’re either in different states, cities or coasts and sometimes going out to a bar on a Wednesday night is something that I need occasionally, sorry boss!! We need that familial connection, a local friend, or even acquaintance, to go out and let loose. Wear the jeans that don’t show your muffin top as much and wear the new top you got last year. You need it, everyone does! We want that connection with someone, even at the local level, to feel relaxed and not so tense. So how do you friend date after thirty?

In our youth and into our early twenties, we’re so fluid with life that we’re not always actively meeting new people or friendships, at least I wasn’t—everything is supposed to happen organically. Like numerous others, I spent my early twenties in a military uniform—hoo-ah Army!! I made bonds with others, that even after ten years out of service, I can rely on them for almost anything. Shout out to my boys! But being a woman in her mid-thirties and two kids, who lives on true crime and gin and tonics; it can be hard to find adult connection… How does one date friends? I don’t do mommy dates; I feel uncomfortable and the need to fit someone else’s agenda. It’s just not me. Half the time I’m wondering if bringing a tall boy is optional or not.

Meeting new people is hard, especially when you’re still relatively new in town.

Anywhere is considered proving grounds for meeting new people. I’ve made connections to people in my online courses and encounters when I’m out and about. But they’re just flickers in my day, numbers aren’t exchanged, and I literally forget them once we’ve parted. I’m socially awkward and make inappropriate jokes about what ‘he/she said,’ but when I find that person who has the humor to laugh and not turn their nose up at me, I try to cling onto them. I’m not your average mom or person. I have a punk rock soul and enough hearing damage from standing next to speakers at a concert to care to listen to anyone’s basic opinion about the latest hashtag on social media, or casually talking about the misappropriation of culture because a big Hollywood celebrity discovered it during their last trip to India. Then smiling and nodding, thinking to myself, when can I go home and shotgun the beer I should have brought. Then it ends with fake smiles and coordinating calendars on our next outing.

During these times, it can be difficult to find someone who relates to you in any way. Whether that’s through music, movies, books, movements, political stances, etc., it’s a harsh world out there and even harsher when you can’t find a friend that can relate to the same background as you, or at the very least understand you.

I don’t have a set standard for those I encounter, but I do have three basic rules:

  1. Be cool. It’s self-explanatory, so…
  2. Bring good chisme to the table. In other words, spill the tea…
  3. Don’t be judgmental, no matter what.

I tend to approach a new friend as I would a dozen box of donuts; looks tempting and fun, but am I going to regret this later? It seems harsh and I’m not sorry for saying it. I’m at an age where I’m selective with who I’m friends with. I’m not going to have a connection with everyone and I’m ok with that. I don’t want to waste time with someone who I can’t enjoy time with, relax and enjoy a few beers with. I want someone who will tell me when I’m being a jerk but be the first to congratulate me on any accomplishments. On the flip side, I want to be the person that someone thinks of when they need to vent, in search of a laugh or just a throwback on a Saturday night. In theory, it sounds simple, but it really isn’t. Trust me, I’m disorganized and far from perfect. But that’s what I love about myself, I know who I am, and I embrace that. I realized that a long time ago and it’s changed my outlook on life for all the right reasons.

I’ve spent years trying to identify with clichés, groups, and culture. Faking personalities, just to fit in and it’s exhausting. Do I sound bitter? Of course, I do. But I’ll never apologize for it; I’ve been burned more times than the average Arizonan is burned by a seatbelt in the summer. So, who I let in my life is purely up to me, I am selective, and I don’t feel bad about it. We live our lives according to our agendas and in no way should we feel compromised. I’m not out here searching for my other half, believe me, I have him and he’s wonderful. But as moms, we need to detach sometimes and let loose. Sitting at a bar, drinking a beer, and exhaling a breath of relief because I don’t have to pretend to like something to be liked in return. I am who I am. All I have to do is find the Ethel to my Lucy.

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In + Around Flagstaff

Guide to Fall Color in Flagstaff

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Drive around town and you know...fall has come to Flagstaff, Arizona. It's been playing peek-a-boo with us for awhile now, and amateur photographers everywhere (including...