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.

Thoughts… of being in 2nd grade all over again with my child

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Like so many other districts around the country, our district has started the year with classes on zoom. I have 4 kids doing this! FOUR! We are toughing it out at home because I am ‘blessed’ to not have a full or even a part-time job right now. My youngest is in 2nd grade. I know this isn’t the youngest kiddo navigating zoom, nor am I in a unique situation. But I am starting to dread school each day because my son NEEDS someone by his side the entire school day. He’s fidgety, he doesn’t always listen or pay attention, he has ‘pullout’ classes that are different from his main classroom, in short – he needs constant guidance!

So, in four+ weeks of school on Zoom, sitting next to my squirrely little boy, I have learned a few more things than just relearning 2nd-grade material…

7&8 year old’s are loud

OK, I admit I have done a little listening in on my other three kid’s classes, they are loud too (mostly 5th grade), so it’s not just the second-grade kids. But, oh my ears… God bless my boy’s teacher because half of the day all I hear is his name. “Mr. ___!,” “Mr. ___!,” “Mr. ___!” all day. Remember how we moms feel when all we hear for hours on end is “mom,” it’s very similar! The ‘mute’ button (and “all mute” by the host) was a genius invention by the people at zoom. After the first day of school, I said that 5th graders are loud, but these sweet little 2nd graders are not very different. The worst times for noise are right at the beginning of the day or when they are just coming back from breaks or doing independent work, and the end of the day. Some days we cannot ‘leave’ the class soon enough! To be fair, there is a lot going on and these kids have things they need or want to say.

Kids are resilient

I see many, if not most, of my son’s classmates, doing the work that has been asked. These kids are not only navigating Zoom but a plethora of other online learning apps and websites. They are listening (shocking after what I just said, but…) to books read by the teacher or by recording. These kids are reading books online, much like a kindle or other e-reader, AND these websites are keeping track of how much they have read and what levels they are reading at.

When the internet goes out for either themselves or the teacher (and it WILL), I have seen these kids take it in stride. Though I have to admit when the teacher disappeared one day, it was a bit chaotic for a few minutes, but he had just explained to the students exactly how to find what to do… approximately 5 times… The teacher reappeared and all was better (and quieter) in the 2nd-grade world again.

Teachers are amazing

All through school I wanted to be a teacher, life’s circumstances changed that just a bit. But I really don’t know if I could do what these unsung heroes are doing right now! We’ve all heard the analogies of “building the plane while it’s in the air” or that it’s like “all the teachers have been thrust into a first-year again” – meaning that it’s going to take a while to get the hang of this online/ Zoom teaching thing. Yes, yes, and yes! I do know quite a few teachers, many in this district, their number one wish is to be in those classrooms with your kiddos. I don’t want to start a debate here, so I’ll just say since that in-person school not possible at this juncture, teachers are learning to make lemonade from some very sour lemons.

Grace is required

Need I say more…

Well fine then…

Everyone involved in a schooling situation: any teacher, any student, any parent, or other big people in a kid’s life, needs you to bestow kindness and grace to them, likewise they to you. Let’s not belittle anyone for their personal choices. We are all “so over it” all, and if you need to talk to someone, reach out. Another analogy I’ve heard along the way: we are all going through the same storm, just in different boats, be respectful of that.

There is a light at the end of this tunnel!

I am Somebody’s Mother and I Still Dress ‘Vintage’

Lately, I’ve been on a big YouTube kick in my spare time. I don’t really have a lot of time to sit and consume media, and YouTube allows me to watch content in small bites in my own time. Recently on one of my binges, I stumbled upon a few vloggers who are into vintage costuming and wear, which if you know me, ticks all of my boxes. In one of these videos I happened to be scrolling in the comments and I read one along the lines of, “they can dress this way because none of them have kids.”

Challenge accepted.

See before I had kids, I too tended towards vintage fashions. After I had my first daughter, however, I became quite lazy with the majority of my day-to-day appearances. Often opting for leggings and a tee-shirt, throwing my hair into a braid, and outside of special occasions, never wearing makeup. Now, I truly believe that people can dress however the heck they want to dress, and if you feel amazing and unstoppable in a wardrobe like that- GET IT, QUEEN!! I tend to struggle with my self-image, and for me, it was more of a way to hide, rather than a way to feel good and confident about myself.

When I read the comment above on YouTube, I was in a place where I already was wanting to make changes, but I was struggling a bit with finding clothes that made me feel good about me. I have always loved vintage fashion and feel amazing in it, but I often felt like it was only something I could wear on special occasions because I had toddlers. Well, I certainly don’t feel that way now.

I gave myself a challenge, using the clothes in my wardrobe to attempt to dress full vintage with hair and makeup, just to see if I could do it. And you know what? I could. Easily. Almost as if, people in the ’40s were somehow able to be parents even through the clothes they were wearing. WEIRD. (Can you read my sarcasm here or is it not strong enough?)

See, the only thing that changed for me was my self-image. I felt more confident and more motivated to go about my day. And in this year of our Lord 2020 that is saying a lot. I didn’t have any trouble cooking for my kids, giving baths, putting them to bed, changing diapers, or any of the normal day to day duties of parenthood, in fact, they were more fun. I wasn’t going through the motions anymore. By spending time on myself and my style I was able to tune in more to the day because I didn’t want the outfit to ‘go to waste’.

Look at me doing all the mom things.

Now that the experiment is over, I think it’s safe to say that, for me, vintage fashion is here to stay. I donated and sold all of the clothing (void of nostalgic value) that didn’t fit my new found aesthetic. I also made myself some new wardrobe pieces as well. As I write this, I am in a vintage circle skirt with a vintage head-wrap and a red lip. If you are hesitant to update your style because you have little kids, I urge you to just go for it. If you don’t feel good about what you are wearing, you don’t have to wear it.

Diversify your kid’s bookshelf

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I’ve posted another piece here about classic children’s books that are actually racist. Today I’m listing some positive alternative options to add diversity to your kids’ bookshelves. Reading to children is a powerful tool to generate empathy and understanding and jump-start their literacy skills. But so many children’s books showcase the white/cis/male protagonist we miss the opportunity to truly expand our understanding of the human experience. As a parent during this tumultuous moment in history, I feel like we have an extra heavy weight on our shoulders: the prevalent systemic racism in our country is an outrage, and we can not raise another generation of complicit Americans.

I am linking these books to Amazon so that you can read the descriptions but many are available through our local library’s curbside pickup or you can order them through our local independent bookstore Brightside.

Racial Diversity

Hair Love By Mathew Cherry

I am Human: a book of empathy By Susan Verde 

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty 

Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o 

 

LGBTQ+ inclusion

I am Jazz by Jessica Hershel and Jazz Jennings

Heather has two mommies by Leslea Newman

Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love 

Jacob’s New Dress by Sarah Hoffman

A Fire Engine for Ruthie By Leslea Newman

Multicultural Diversity

Bilal cooks Daal By Aisha syed

The Arabic Quilt by Aya Khalil

The Sandwich Swap By Queen Rania of Jordan al Abdullah 

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales 

Fry Bread By Kevin Noble Mainard 

Wangari’s Trees of Peace By Jeannette Winter 

We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrome 

This list is far from comprehensive, here are a few other resources and feel free to leave a comment! What are some of your favorite inclusive kids books?

 The conscious kid: an education resource and policy organization dedicated to equity and healthy racial identity development in youth.

Little Feminist: offers diverse children’s books subscriptions.

DIY: How to Build a Sandbox with Built-In Seats

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I want to start off this post by saying that I’m NOT a carpenter. I actually didn’t even know what a Sawzall (it’s a reciprocating saw) was until recently, and I just learned to make cuts on a miter saw (I had to cut baseboards at an angle). But I am a mother of three young kids who is trying to come up with ways to entertain the children during the pandemic.

My daughter was about to turn three, and I wanted to make her birthday special. When we recently visited my in-laws who have a sandbox on their property, the kids played in it for HOURS. Scooping, shoveling, pouring, sometimes throwing (which results in immediate removal from the sandbox)… the sandbox was a perfect outdoor spot for sensory and imaginative play. Sadly, most (if not all) of the playgrounds in Flagstaff don’t have sand and we haven’t been able to go to the playground since the pandemic anyway. Therefore, I opted to bring the playground to our backyard by building a sandbox.

I spent some time searching for an appropriate design. I ultimately decided to go with a sandbox that has double-duty lids that convert to built-in seats in order to have a cover for when it is not being used. Covering up the sandbox keeps out the neighborhood cats and makes it harder for rocks, leaves and general yard debris to infiltrate it.

This is what the final product looked like:

This is a video that shows how you open up the sandbox and convert the cover into seats: My awesome sandbox

This is the YouTube link that gave me a quick tutorial on how to build a sandbox with bench seats: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IT6Z_9Vt3dc

This is the plan I followed: http://www.ana-white.com/2011/10/plans/sand-box-built-seats

I was able to get all the materials I need at Home Depot under $100. If you want to waterproof the surface, you can apply an exterior stain and sealer to repel moisture and have the sandbox last longer. Depending on the brand, a gallon of all-in-one wood stain and sealer will cost $20-40. I only needed a quart but ended up buying a gallon because that’s what Home Depot carried in person.

As for the sand, you can buy play sand that has been washed, dried and screened from Home Depot for $4-5 per 50 lb bag. However, I chose to purchase mortar sand at Landscape Connection, a local company that sells bulk rocks, sand, cinder, etc. This type of sand has been washed, and it is finer and less dusty than concrete sand. I only needed a quarter cubic yard for my sandbox but the smallest quantity I could purchase was a half cubic yard, which costs around $25. This was still significantly cheaper than buying several 50 lb bags from Home Depot.

These are the general steps I took to make the sandbox and how long it took. Understand that I’m not a professional and I was doing this at night (i.e. when I’m tired) because this was supposed to be a surprise for my daughter.

  1. Sanding (not required but I didn’t want the kids to get splinters) – 1 hr
  2. Cutting the pieces into the right length – 30 min
  3. Filling in holes with wood glue – 15 min
  4. Sanding dried glue areas and the ends of each board once the pieces were cut – 15 min
  5. Applying stain and sealer on half of the surfaces – 30 min
  6. Letting the pieces dry overnight
  7. Applying stain and sealer on the other half of the surfaces – 30 min
  8. Letting the pieces dry again
  9. Assembling the sandbox – 1 hr with another person (one person would hold the pieces together while the other person drilled because the boards weren’t always straight)
  10. Stapling the landscape fabric on the bottom (not required but I wanted to keep the sand separate from the dirt and prevent weeds growing up below the sand) – 10 min
  11. Unloading the sand and filling the sandbox – 20 min

If you have room in your backyard for a sandbox, I would urge you to find the inner carpenter in you and start building!

5 Ways to Show Up for Hispanic Heritage Month

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Hey,Flagstaff! It’s me, ya girl who procrastinates and writes her articles in between other things. What’s up?

Well, it is almost the end of September/beginning of October, and I have kept pushing out my article. Why? Well, I have wanted to dedicate this piece to celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month! There are just too many things I want to write about and share with you. As my previous pieces have mentioned, I grew up in a Mexican household. My parents and older siblings came here in the ’70s and they started a new life here. I grew up in a mix of Mexican and American culture. Some of it good, some of it super cringe when you think about it…and it all makes for good material. HAHA.

Maybe that’s something I can share with you all another day. For this piece, I wanted to highlight some of the many ways that we, as adults, can help the Latinx community in the United States.

Without getting too into it (trust me, I could go on about this), here are a few ways we can show our support.

1.SUPPORT LATINX OWNED BUSINESS

I have noticed that a lot of people are into Mexican artisanal pieces as well as other Latinx food and cultural practices, and art. While there are a plethora of businesses out there, I encourage you all to support Latinx businesses and pay them for their craft/labors/knowledge when it comes to it.  If you are on Instagram, check out @shoplatinx and @mujeresmarket. I am sure there are plenty more accounts out there, but these 2 highlight online businesses owned and operated by Latinx all across the globe. If you know of other accounts, please share them with me!

https://www.latimes.com/lifestyle/story/2020-09-25/latino-owned-businesses-hispanic-heritage-month
list of latinx owned businesses from the L.A Times -click for link-

 

2. FIGHT FOR EQUAL PAY

I know this subject gets a little touchy, but where would we be if we ignored the uncomfortable? It is unfortunate that in this day and age, we are still fighting for everyone to be treated with equal respect not only in society but in the place where we spend most of our lives- work!   According to equalpaytoday.org, women in the United States are paid .82 cents to the male dollar, while Latina Women are paid .55 cents to that same dollar. I’m going to also include that Native American women are paid .60 and Black women are paid at .62 to the male dollar. It’s sometimes hard to speak up about these things, but it is important to do so. There are laws (this isn’t legal advice) that can help protect you if you choose to do so. 

Gender Pay Gap Visualized. -click for link-

3. ASK QUESTIONS

I have been pretty open about my life and how it was growing up. There are definitely cultural aspects that some people will not understand, and it is ok to ask questions as long as they are done respectfully. How will we know if we don’t ask, right? Always be mindful of what you’re asking and why you are asking. If you are asking to learn, go ahead. If you are asking to degrade or to prove a point, please take a step back and evaluate as to WHY you are choosing to be this way.  Questions to avoid are usually things like “how do you feel about *insert current political event here*. Things that might be ok to ask: “Hey! What are some traditions you and your family have for *insert holiday here*”. Please note that some questions may require big amounts of emotional labor, so if someone is not as open as you’d like them to be, respect it. 

4. LEARN TO BE INCLUSIVE

I mean this with the kindest heart….but not everyone who speaks Spanish and has a brown hue to their skin is Mexican. I can’t count how many times family and friends have been confused for being Mexican because of how they looked. Not only is it a little insensitive to assume, but it also erases and devalues people’s identities. There are 20+ countries in Latin America, and many of those countries have their own beautiful culture, languages, and people. The citizens of these countries range in looks and we are not here to tell them they are not part of the Latinx community simply because they “don’t look or sound like it” And while we’re on the subject, using Latinx has become the more inclusive way to address us. However, If someone chooses to be addressed differently (ex, Latino/a, Mexican, Salvadorian, Honduran, etc) we respect that. While the term is still controversial within some communities, it is gaining popularity because it breaks the binds of gender normative language, making it gender-neutral. Language is powerful and ever-changing. Many have expressed that using it is a form of rebellion to colonialism language and transforming it to our own desire, and I think that’s beautiful. 

(Here is an OpEd piece on the term Latinx)

5. LISTEN

I’ve started using “listen to understand instead of listening to argue”, and it really has helped me understand a few things. I hear all the time about how tiresome it has become to be “politically correct”, but let me tell you, it is just as tiresome trying to defend yourself and your culture. Our traditions have become such a vital part of our identities. It is what’s left of our ancestors and it has to live through us. So when someone says that maybe some people shouldn’t be profiting from our cultures, it’s probably good to listen. There is a line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation, but people don’t know where to draw that line (see #3).  I absolutely love sharing my culture with my friends. We want you all to be happy and rejoice with us in our celebrations, but please just be respectful about it. If someone says your joke was racist and insensitive, don’t scoff at the fact that people can’t take a joke. It’s happened to me where someone said VERY offensive things about a minority community and when I spoke up about it, they said “it was a joke”. I’ve clearly become the person that gets avoided for certain conversations, but I think to myself “are those really conversations and groups that I want to be a part of?” The answer is NO.

 

If you’ve come this far…

I want you to know that I love and appreciate you. These things are often hard to talk about because I hate making people uncomfortable. But it’s time that I stop being uncomfortable for other people’s sake. There is truly a beauty that sometimes is unfathomable within the Latinx community. Every time I share food with my friends, I am sharing a piece of myself; a piece of my family. When I sing to my son in Spanish, I am embracing him in the love that my grandma gave to my mom, who in turn gave it to me. When we set up our beautiful altars, I am celebrating the life of those who came before me and hoping that none are ever forgotten. So this Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrate by becoming someone who we would be proud to share these things with. Become our family. Show up for us. Our voices alone may be drowned out by hate, but alongside one another, our voices and actions can drown that hate out.

*links to shops are NOT sponsored*

A Letter to the Editor on Passion and Reason

I read a recently published article on Flagstaff Mom Collective that didn’t quite sit well with me. Looking at the numbers posted by NAU’s COVID-19 positive cases, the writer passionately, but petulantly implored Flagstaffians to stop blaming NAU for the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases. I think the tone of the article is nearly more bothersome than the fact that the writer believes that NAU does not hold disproportionate responsibility for the rising number of cases per capita. I’d like to address both of these.

Passion is important. Passion happens when someone cares deeply about something, and passion can help motivate and initiate important changes. I hope we all feel passionate about the things for which we care deeply. We should also take care to remember how to use our passion. Passionate anger is definitely allowed, but it’s like I tell my young daughter – you’re allowed to have all the feelings, it’s only how you act on them that counts.

In this case, the writer acted on her passionate anger and frustration by accusing Flagstaffians of blaming NAU for the rise in cases. On a personal note, I don’t think I blamed NAU so much as looked at the data and made an observation that NAU’s rise in the number of cases was disproportionately high in comparison to the rest of Flagstaff. It means NAU is becoming a big contributor to the problem, and will likely, therefore, be a big contributor to spread.

Science, reason, and wisdom combined can proffer the knowledge that when thousands of young students (the greater portion of NAU’s enrollees are under 25) return to campus, there are more likely to be a greater number of in-person interactions. It’s really a bit difficult to blame young adults for the types of choices they make in their new adulthood – at a young age, most people simply do not possess the maturity and wisdom to make choices that consider all options. At a young age, choices can be more carefree and less thought-out, not only because of the invincible feeling one has, but also because for the most part, there is less responsibility taken on at that point of a person’s life. This is a generalization based in truth. We can wish, but we can’t expect, that students will not gather, will not go out to meet new people, or will always wear masks. It’s just not the reality that exists.

Because of this, we can expect that the influx of students will come with a rise in the number of COVID-19 positive cases. Instead of pointing a finger at residents for reasonably making this assumption, maybe the writer should have looked at the numbers first and then made conclusions based on facts.

NAU reported an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases among their on- and off-campus students of 184% from the school week ending September 11 to the week ending September 18. The number of cases rose from 96 to 273. The number of weekly positive cases in Flagstaff itself had been decreasing since the end of June up through the week students returned to NAU on August 12. The following week, the number of weekly cases began to rise, and as of the numbers posted last week, is still on the rise. This data is all available on Coconino County’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

The Data Dashboard shows that for the week ending September 12 (the day after NAU posted its 96 COVID-19 positive cases in on- and off-campus students), NAU’s zip code 86011 had approximately 20* cases. This zip code covers less than one square mile of land area and the less than 10,000 people that live in it. On the other hand, the 86001 zip code which is inclusive of a large part of Flagstaff that covers nearly 900 square miles and has somewhere around a 6x greater number of residents reported approximately 70* new cases in the same week. This number is much lower per capita than that reported for the NAU zip code. The zip code 86004 which covers another large portion of Flagstaff (nearly 800 square miles and somewhere around 5x the number of residents as that housed in 86011) reported about the same number of cases as NAU*, a disproportionately lower number per capita. Looking at this data, it’s easy to see how residents might feel that cases at NAU are more concerning than any other part of Flagstaff.

This is where I would like to make the point that before we let our own passion take hold and allow a tone of anger to be directed at the community, we need to take a step back and breathe. This is the time to remember that we are ALL in this fight together and support each other. Look at data, look at facts, and be prepared with knowledge. The data may not be perfect, but in general, we can trust these trends (more people tested = larger sample size = better chance of accuracy in trends – it’s just statistics). Your heart may be impassioned, but let your head reason first before spouting off your heart’s desire. Come from a position of understanding, and think about why other people have formed their perceptions. If ever there was something in which we should not inject more divisiveness, it’s this pandemic. Look at the data the county provides and make reasonable conclusions instead of pointing fingers at all, and then choose to help the problem by wearing a mask, washing your hands, and social distancing. The more people practice this, and practice kindness and caring for their neighbor, the less we will have to battle in general – against COVID-19 and against each other.

*These numbers approximated from graphs posted in Coconino County weekly reports listed here: https://www.coconino.az.gov/DocumentCenter/View/36373/0916-COVID-19-Weekly-Update-Week-Number-37?bidId=

Vote Like a Mother

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“When my grandma was born, women could not vote. I use my right to honor the struggle to get me that right and to make my voice heard.”

I have been writing letters to encourage others to vote, and this is how I end most of them- especially those to other women. I realized this in discussion with my kindergartner, trying to give him some context on the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment last month. It’s not that long ago. Many people have gained the right to vote much more recently.  I believe voting is the bedrock of a democracy, it is an important duty of a citizen, and finally, that if you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain about the results. I want to model for my kids that I am engaged in what kind of present and future we will have. That’s a big motivation for me, if I want to weigh in on the community and country we live in- I think I have to have done my most basic duty to shape what life looks like.

Election Day is November 3, 2020. How will you participate?

Base Level: Register and Vote! The Coconino County Elections site has lots of information- this is where you can register to vote (deadline is October 5, 2020!), request an early ballot (by October 23, 2020,) find out where to vote early in person (before October 30, 2020).

I really like being on the Permanent Early Voting List. My ballot comes a few weeks before the election, which confirms nothing weird happened with my registration (I’ve shown up twice to vote, in two other states, and had been kicked off of the rolls…) and gives me time to look into it if it does.  Then I have some time on my schedule to research any candidates or ballot measures I am less familiar with. And finally, while I can mail it back, I usually drop it off in person at one of the many drop-off sites– so I know it got there. If you have questions or issues with registration or getting your ballot, the county Elections office is 928-679-7860.

In Arizona, if we don’t turn in an early ballot or vote in person early- we can actually then show up and vote in person on election day. Bring ID!

I’m going to include with base-level participation- researching the ballot measures and local races, or “down-ballot” as they say. This year we are voting for President and for one Senator, which are big, important decisions. But citizens initiatives and city council or county supervisor can make a huge impact on our every day lives, too!

Ideas to Level Up:

Sign up to be a poll worker! This is a paid position through Elections, workers who are bilingual in Spanish or Navajo are especially useful. Many regular poll workers are older, retired people- and are not able to participate this year due to increased health risk and the Covid-19 pandemic. So if you are younger and healthy and comfortable working the polls (with social distancing procedures and safety precautions in place) you could really help the election run smoothly in Coconino County.

Volunteer with Election Protection, either by poll-watching or answering hotline calls- to ensure everyone qualified to vote is able to.

Encourage others to register and vote. I have been writing letters to unlikely voters through non-partisan Vote Forward. They roll out new campaigns pretty often and are halfway to their goal of sending 5 million letters before the election. I am about halfway through my goal of 300 letters. You can also phone or text bank for a specific candidate, party, or PAC. All of these systems have ways to protect your personal information- you’re not mailing from your return address or calling/texting from your actual phone number.

And, of course, donations to campaigns at any level are helpful and a way to vote with your dollars. This is especially true in small and local campaigns where small amounts can make a huge difference.

Talk to your friends, talk to your family, talk to your kids. Make voting an expectation. Discuss why voting is important to you. Help people you know overcome barriers – offer rides or babysitting to help folks get to the polls. You’re able to drop off ballots for disabled household members.

This is an important year to be an Arizona voter- so get out there, use your rights, and vote like a mother!

What Can a Man Be?

There are many important conversations happening in America, and I’m not saying this one is more important than others, but it came up at my dinner table this week: what does it mean to be a man today?

Did you know, according to the Department of Justice, that males are convicted of the vast majority of homicides in the United States, representing 89.5% of the total number of offenders?

According to the FBI as of 2011:

* Males constituted 98.9% of those arrested for forcible rape
* Males constituted 87.9% of those arrested for robbery
* Males constituted 85.0% of those arrested for burglary
* Males constituted 83.0% of those arrested for arson.
* Males constituted 81.7% of those arrested for vandalism.
* Males constituted 81.5% of those arrested for motor-vehicle theft.
* Males constituted 79.7% of those arrested for offenses against family and children.
* Males constituted 77.8% of those arrested for aggravated assault.
Male violence in this country permeates every facet of our society, from dating expectations to media depictions, to the way some people refer to certain shirts as “wife beaters.”

As a girl, I spent a great deal of time being educated about how to protect myself from men.

This included not only what to do the moment a man grabbed me, but also preventative measures. Don’t go out alone. Don’t go out without a phone. Think about how you’re presenting yourself. This I heard all the time: “Men only want one thing.”

I vividly remember my grandmother saying, “Girls think if they stay quiet it will all be over, but you scream if a man grabs you because he will kill you either way.”

By college, I knew multiple ladies who had to take anxiety medication to go on dates.

But what were the guys told? What were they doing while my friends and I texted articles about which parks and bars to avoid?

I have no idea. I have deep relationships with men and I have no idea.

My husband and I were talking. He asked me if I could define what it means to be a woman. I had a whole proud speech ready. I asked if he could define what it means to be a man. Silence. My heart broke.

He didn’t know.

My husband isn’t perfect, of course. He has his battles. But he is a good, thoughtful man. He is a good, thoughtful man living in a time where male violence is so overwhelming that boys don’t learn much else about manhood. So many of them miss the language of connection, love, forgiveness, hope, and celebration.

What can a man be, besides dangerous?

I’m not sugar-coating the fact that in this world men are responsible for very real acts of violence, but I want to tell my husband and son some stories of what else a man can be.

A man can be a safe place. When I lost my first pregnancy, after we came home from the hospital, my husband climbed into the bed and held me all day. He held onto me and held me together for hours.

A man can be a storyteller. When I was anxious as a kid I would ask my grandfather to tell me stories about his childhood. He was never too busy for me. He inspired me, distracted me, and cared for me.

A man can be a voice of reason. My buddy Nick is a great guy to call in a crisis. He literally came to pick me up after I freaked out and cut my face by accident on my wedding day (long story). Our friendship disproves When Harry Met Sally’s notion that “men and women can’t be friends.” I still love that movie, but in real life friendships between men and women are so important.

I could go on and on, but my real goal is to start a conversation. I want my son to have an answer if someone asks him what it means to be a man. What do you think a man can be?

What great men have influenced your life? Share your stories!

Back to Campus in the time of COVID

As a member of the Flagstaff Community for 10 years, I confess that over the years I blamed NAU (Northern Arizona University) on occasion for traffic, lack of housing options,  and constant construction near the campus.

However, I am now a student at NAU in the College of Education and my views have changed.

Lately, I have seen posts on social media that blame the number of positive COVID19 cases on NAU students. This is not fair! NAU alone is not the problem. 95% of the students in my classes are working from their dorm rooms, family homes, or even out of state. I do not know anyone that has a positive case. I have been on campus one time this entire semester. A lot of faculty and staff did want to stay fully remote for the Fall 20 semester but it was not allowed. They are not thrilled with the idea but want to keep their jobs. A lot of students were told they could not receive refunds for housing, so they came to FLG and are working remotely.

Yes, there are more people in town because of the start of the semester and as of Sept. 18, NAU is managing 273 cases of on- and off-campus students. In comparison, ASU said 1,580 students have tested positive as have 30 staff and faculty members — a 2.8% positivity rate.  UofA (University of Arizona – Tucson) has seen a total of 1,951 cases campus-wide since Aug. 4 as of Thursday evening. 
Also, the number of positive tests being seen is because of testing being done at the NAU Fieldhouse.
Community members can register for a free test at this link: https://nau.edu/jacks-are-back/testing/ Without that location doing FREE testing, a lot of community members might not be able to get a test.
 
Please don’t blame NAU as a whole for the total number of cases.

 

Remember to follow the local and state guidelines for COVID. In addition, please make safe choices for yourself and your family. Wear a mask when you are unable to stay socially distant, and stay home if you are sick, whenever possible. If you think you may have COVID or have been in contact with someone that has it, please get a free test. More information here

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