Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Arizona Elections 2014: Important Dates You Need to Know

Driving around it's hard to not notice it is election time. Here is a quick shot of info in order to keep you in-in-the-know so you can accomplish your civic duty this fall. If you are not registered to vote or need to change your registration, time is ticking!

Images and writing by Marily
Any other info you need can be found on the Secretary of State's website including:
  • Voter registration info
  • A kids' page to learn about the state of Arizona
  • How to request an early ballot
...and more. 

For me, as a mom of little kids, I like requesting an early ballot, filling it out at home, then walking it in to the polls on election day. I can take my kids to the polls with me to show them the voting process but I don't have to wait in line with them or fill out my ballot while I am there. It's a great option for me.

And as for candidates and issues, I am not going to be helping with that info, good luck!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Foster Care Journey in Arizona

Writing and images by Kathryn

(Disclosure:  I am not an expert.  This is just my beginning.)

Some of you may have noticed that it seems Marily has been doing all the work this last month at I Heart AZ.  And you are right.  Marily is a friend that has been there through the thick and thin of it all since we were both awkward little girls in 8th grade.  Marily has taken over for me for much of this summer because...

I'm a new mom again!  That means I'm getting up every two or three hours in the night and hoping that this little one doesn't decide to have a party at 3:00 AM (like last night).  I try to fit in my meals when I can.  My arms and voice seem to be the comfort that baby craves, which I don't really mind.  I'm soaking in dreamy smiles and chubby cheeks and that fresh baby smell and trying to forget about all the less important things that still seem to be calling my attention.     

But when I look down at these dark brown eyes and stroke this beautiful downy hair, I know this baby is not mine to keep.  I didn't give birth to him.  I don't even have custody of him.  I'm his foster mom.  I'm here for however long he needs.  Whether it is one month or two years or possibly a lifetime.  He is my Maybe Baby.     
My girls waiting to meet our new little guy.  I had just driven in the garage when my husband snapped this picture.  
Let me tell you, it is crazy adjusting to being the mom without really being the mom.  Crazy!  I've given birth to two sets of twins and tandem nursed them for a year each.  I figured that would be my crowning jewel, the information they could put on my tombstone to prove I did something valuable in life.  But people want to know how fostering feels in comparison.  Obviously I'm not lactating and my body isn't in recovery from a recent twin pregnancy and delivery, but becoming a foster mother is VERY different, and not necessarily easier.  The emotions of it all are new to me and I'm navigating as best I can.  I'm driving to biological visits several times a week.  I learned how to sign up for WIC.  I'm learning what to say to people when this precious newborn looks nothing like me or my husband or our blond haired blue eyed gaggle of girls.  I'm adjusting to the reality of loving someone so much but not knowing how long I'll get to keep him.  I'm adjusting to so many maybe's that sometimes I think my head might explode. 

But I don't regret becoming a foster mom.  I know this is what I was supposed to do and I knew it wouldn't be easy.  I knew there would be days where I would lose sight of why my husband and I made this decision, but the right idea is not always the easy idea.

In 2012 there were 14,111 children in Arizona who were placed in out-of-home care due to neglect, abandonment or abuse.  14,111!

In 2012, seventy children died in Arizona from "maltreatment."  In 2011 it was 71.  In 2010 is was 70.  That is roughly three whole classrooms full of children who vanish each year due to abuse.  

I've heard, "I could never do that.  It would break my heart," so. many. times.  First statement is false.  Second statement is true.  Your heart will be stretched, broken, filled with so much love you can't stand it and crushed...but you could do it.  You can handle that.  Most of us where raised in such a way that we can handle the battle, but these children, no matter what you think your heart can handle or not, still need homes.  There will still be drunken rage, children born addicted to drugs, too young of children left to fend for themselves, sexual abuse, emotional and physical abuses, children needing stability, and the list goes on and on. 

I'm not saying foster care is for everyone, but, if you stop lying to yourself that your heart could never handle it, would you find a heart actually willing?

(And just to clarify - you do not need to be married to be a foster parent)

Why are you doing foster care?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Exploring Arizona: Salt River Canyon Scenic Drive

Recently we took a day trip to Show Low and drove through the Salt River Canyon. If you enjoy scenic drives, this is a must see and definitely a highlight of my summer

My husband Mark talks about driving through the Salt River Canyon numerous times growing up on the way to and from Show Low to see family.  Many people describe it as a mini Grand Canyon. The cool part though is that you get to drive through the canyon.  I am not sure how I missed seeing this place, having lived in Arizona nearly all my life. 

The rode takes you through the the San Carlos and Fort Apache Indian reservations so you may get a chance to stop and buy items from Native Americans if you'd like.  We would have stopped for that and to take some pictures too, but we had two kids sleeping in the back seat who needed a good nap before we stopped for dinner in Miami.  We drove straight through this time so  this is the only photo I got:

Written by Marily, photos are credited to their original sources

Fortunately, there are some much better photographers out there. Check these out: 

Image source: EJ Photo

Image source: EJ Photo

Image Source: EJ Photo

Image source: 52 Wednesdays

Image source: Wikipedia
How to get there 
Check out more information about the drive including how to get there and other places to stop at on the way here.

You might want to know that if you have a big fear of heights or are inexperienced driving winding mountain roads, this may not be so much fun for you. However, if you take it slow and the driver can pay attention to the road without getting too distracted by the view, it is a beautiful and safe drive.

We hit up Guayo's El Rey for some Mexican food in Miami on our way back to the Valley. Globe/Miami is known for it's great, authentic Mexican food and we were not disappointed. Two kinds of salsa, excellent enchiladas, and delicious shredded beef tacos. 

On our Facebook page, we asked what your favorite Mexican restaurants were in the Globe/Miami region.  Lots of people that said Burger House is the BEST for Mexican food, so we will have to check that out next time. Check us out on Facebook if you'd like to be part of the conversation.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

20 Plus Back to School Ideas (Link Roundup)

Maybe you are not yet in the back to school mode, but we are just about ready for school to start at my house. Many kids still have a couple of weeks of summer break, but we are counting down our last couple of days. Meet the Teacher is on Monday and school begins next Wednesday.


Here are several ideas I've found for back to school including food, shopping, schedules, and much more.

School Lunch Ideas

Writing by Marily. Images are from original sources, as cited

1. Create a grab and go snack station

2. Organize a school lunch making drawer

3. School lunch ideas

4. Free printable lunch box notes

Back to School Style

5. 10 Easy School Hairstyles for Girls

6. Create a Back to School Wardrobe for Boys with 15 Items

7. Back to School for Girls in 15 Items

8. How to cut a little boy's hair

Ready to Learn

9. Tips for helping a little one to ease into school

10. Reading Homework Tips

11. Back to School Questionnaire

12. 5 First Day of Homeschool Traditions

Something Special

13. Over 30 Back to School Printables

14. Sew a zippered pencil and school supplies case

15. Back to School Dinner

16. Awesome teacher gift idea

Back to School Photo Ideas

17. Fun and easy photo idea

18. Free printables for preschool - 12th grade

19. A few cute 1st day of school pics

20. Free Back to School Printables

21. Morning and Evening Routines

And here is a tip of my own. We use to struggle quite a bit getting the kids ready in the morning or into bed in the evening. We came up with a morning routine and an evening routine for our kids and hung them in their bedrooms.

Now, they know exactly what is expected of them and can complete their routines without much prodding. This routine helps a lot too when a babysitter is over putting them to bed.

I printed these off, stuck them back to back, laminated them, then punched a hole in the top. It hangs from a ribbon on a cork board in their rooms and they flip it over to see the side they need.


A routine that fits your families needs is of course best. Here is another example of a family's routine.

Now, Mom (or Dad), after you have done all this and you have sent your little people off to school you should congratulate yourself for making it through another summer! This idea for a little time with a friend seems like the perfect idea.

Has this summer flown by, or what?!

Check us out on Facebook and Pinterest.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

50 Things to Do With Kids for the Last Stretch of Summer Break

If you have kids in school, then summer is likely on the home stretch. Some kids in Arizona are heading back this week! And some of you have a few more weeks to squeeze in some summer fun before classes start again. Here are our summer posts all gathered together in one easy spot for one long list of over 50 things to do to keep you and your family entertained til you get back to your school-day routines.

Air-Conditioned Fun: A list of indoor activities like museums, malls, etc around AZ

Water Fun and Splash Pads: Read this list for some new ideas for splash pads. Take a little drive and try out a new one. Or, try splash pad hopping by visiting more than one spot in a day.

Classes and Activities: There are still several things on this list that are going on at local businesses for kids. It's likely the activities are less busy now since it is towards the end of the season.

Writing by Marily. Photos by Kathryn and Marily.

Out to Eat: Kid-friendly restaurants and great deals for dining out with kids. You'll want this information even when it's not summer. 

Summer Reading Programs: If your kids have finished your library's reading program, get them refreshed and excited to read some more with a new program from a place on this list.

Try out a new ice cream spot

Buy a Pogo Pass and get entrance into 15 venues for one low price. Use code IHEARTAZ for 60% off.

The Pogo Pass will give you plenty to do for the last little bit of summer.  If you buy now it will also keep you entertained all the way into much of next summer too. 

Check out our facebook page here to chime in about your favorite Mexican restaurants in the Globe/Miami area.  

Follow us on Pinterest for more ideas of things to do in Arizona. 

What is your favorite thing you have done this summer in Arizona?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Where to Buy 3-Gallon Tubs of Ice Cream

Writing and Images by Marily
This is how we are celebrating National Ice Cream Month at our house. A couple big tubs of Thrifty ice cream, some cones, and some friends. What could be sweeter than that? 

Want to know our secret? The big 3-gallon tubs of Thrifty Ice Cream are from Restaurant Depot. These are so fun to pull out for a party or event. Restaurant Depot has over 30 flavors--all of your favorites and some really fun ones too like coconut-pineapple, cotton candy, strawberry cheesecake, and chocolate malted crunch. Ice cream and sherbet is priced at around $14 - $19 per tub depending on the flavor which ends up being about $2.50 - $3.25 per half gallon (not 1.75 like most containers of ice cream.) If you are looking for a dairy-free option Restaurant Depot carries a brand of Italian ice in 3-gallon tubs as well.

Where to Shop:
There are three locations in Arizona, in Mesa, Phoenix, and Tucson. If you don't have a membership to Restaurant Depot you can also get 3-gallon containers of ice cream at Smart and Final. The store by me has Thrifty vanilla ice cream and about four or five Smart and Final brand flavors. Another perk with Smart and Final is you don't need a membership card.

Membership Info:
You must have a membership card to shop at Restaurant Depot.  Memberships are free for business owners (you need to provide a business license or tax-exempt certificate.) The nice thing about these memberships is the cardholder does not have to be present. This is not a store for kids, actually you have to sign a waiver every time you bring a child into the store. 

This is how we are celebrating National Ice Cream Month. How about you?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Your Favorite Ice Cream and Treat Shops in Arizona

Writing and images by Marily

In celebration of National Ice Cream Month, we asked what your favorite ice cream and treat places were. You answered! We got such a great list of ice cream spots to check out that I am feeling both excited and disappointed. The disappointment is because in my whole life I might not be able to get to all of these places. 

Yesterday, for "research purposes," I took my boys to Sweet Republic.  This little ice cream shop has been featured on Food Networks' "Best Thing I Ever Ate" as well as received several other accolades like a Top 10 spot in Bon Appetite Magazine. I thought we would see what all the hype is about. 

We went simple this time. The boys got ice cream cones and I got a cup of their coconut sorbet. It really was some of the very best ice cream I have ever had. The ingredients are locally sourced and the flavors are amazing. Even the waffle cone was better than any waffle cone I'd ever had. It is a great spot for foodies and also a great place to take a group of rowdy little boys (ask me how I know.) We will definitely be back--next time I plan on sharing a sundae with my honey on a date night.

And here are your suggestions! I couldn't include them all, so if you want to be a part of the dialogue and see the rest of the list, like us on facebook! And please, if this info is helpful to you, we'd really appreciate you sharing with your friends. 

Okay, on to the ice cream!

Nami (Phoenix)
Nami is the dessert-loving vegan's dream come true. The shop serves soy ice cream treats as well as donuts, pastries, cookies, and more. Their sister-restaurant Green serves a full menu as well as soy soft serve.
Autumn: "I am not able to have dairy and there is a wonderful vegan dessert place in downtown phoenix called Nami. They have these amazing blizzard type desserts made with your choice of mix-ins and soy vanilla soft serve. They are called Tsoynami's. They are amazing!!"
Churn (Phoenix)
This adorable ice cream and candy shop is pretty much the cutest place in Phoenix. 
Kim: "We tried Churn in Phoenix for the first time last month---WONDERFUL!"
Kelly: "Churn is AMAZING. They have dairy free choices."
 Rita's (several locations Valley-wide)
Jesse: "Rita's!! Ice. Custard. Happiness!!!"
Sugar Bowl (Scottsdale) 
Take a trip back in time. Head to Old Town Scottsdale to try Sugar Bowl's ice cream and 50's-style fountain drinks.

Lenny's (Mesa, Phoenix, Glendale)

Carolyn: "If you are looking for a good deal for the family Lenny's on the SE corner of Southern and Stapley in Mesa has either root beer floats or ice cream Sundays for a dollar. They also have awesome fries with fry sauce!"
Gelato Spot (Phoenix, Scottsdale)
The Scottsdale location serves wood-fired pizza and gelato. If all of that goodness sounds like too much for just one stop, head to either of the two Phoenix locations for gelato only.

Yogurt Jungle (Maricopa, Queen Creek)
Local business in the outer edges of the Phoenix area for great frozen yogurt

Udder Delights (Gilbert)
Support this great local spot which is owned by Superstition Farms. They milk the cows in Arizona and turn it into ice cream. That is something worth putting your money (and your mouth) into. You can now also buy other local dairy items like butter, cheese, and buttermilk at Udder Delights.

Sub Zero (Mesa, Paradise Valley)
Kristy: "SubZero ice cream on The SW corner of Baseline and Stapley. They make it in front of you. They turn a liquid into ice cream by using liquid nitrogen. Kids love watching it. Lots of different favors to try and anything from custard to sugar free. We drive all the way from queen creek to go there."
Casa Manana (Safford)
This is a Mexican restaurant, but their fried ice cream is so incredible I had to include it on this list. This thing is greasy and delicious, and rich enough that you might want to share with someone. 

Frost (Gilbert, Phoenix, Tucson)
Artisan gelato, gelato cakes, and other delicious treats.

BTO (Flagstaff)
Locals rave about this place. 
Megan: "Really good yogurt and great customer service."
Lelia: "My 1 year old can't have dairy and they always have the best non dairy flavors for him!"
Catherine: "It's super healthy we are the only yogurt place that makes our yogurt!"
Black Cow Cafe (Sedona)
This is a great place to check out if you are in Sedona and looking for a sweet little stop.

Twisters (Williams)
If you are headed to the Grand Canyon, stop by Twister's for ice cream and their old fashioned drink fountain.

Anyone else feeling hungry? 

Are there any other places not on our list? What are your favorites?

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