Tag Archives: postaday2011

Movies we remember

The first movie I remember seeing at a theater was The Sound of Music, which came out in 1965. I was 9 and going to the movies was, for my family, a really big deal. My dad was a full-time graduate student at the University of Colorado Boulder. My mother worked as a secretary at our church. My parents struggled to make ends meet. So entertainment was typically anything that didn’t cost extra money — picnics in the mountains, neighborhood kickball games and potluck dinners at church.

With my parents and brothers during our Boulder years.

But at some point that spring, we all dressed up in our very best clothes, bundled into the car and turned onto the Denver-Boulder Turnpike for the drive into the big city (about 27 miles as the crow flies). We were with family friends Ivan and Doris Force, who were a bit older than my parents and always treated us like family. I don’t know (nor would any of the adults had told me) if the outing was the Forces’ treat, but I suspect it was.

What I do remember is my sense of awe as we entered the darkened theater and sat, quietly obedient, on the velvety seats. And my complete, enraptured attention as I watched the magical Julie Andrews sing and dance her way through a movie that touched on themes I was far too young to fully comprehend.

The lessons I took away from that experience were these: That movies are very special treats. That music, dancing and a positive attitude can fix almost anything. That falling in love is thrilling, especially if you are “16 going on 17.” And that love is stronger than grief, stronger than duty and stronger than evil.

I was just shy of being old enough to understand the bigger things that were going on that year. Malcom X was assassinated just weeks before The Sound of Music first opened in New York City. Six days after it opened, the first 3,500 Marines arrived in South Vietnam. Later that year, the Beatles released the Help! album and the world certainly needed it.

The narcissism of childhood — and perhaps overly protective parents — kept me blissfully ignorant of these matters. I hummed “Doe, a Dear” and “Raindrops on Roses” and all was well in my world.

So if someone asked me my favorite family film, I would have to say “The Sound of Music.” It is reassuring to know that, even in 2011, it still makes the cut.

We asked readers to tell us their favorite family movie for a chance to win tickets to one of the Valley’s UltraStar Cinemas. The Sound of Music was the movie most often submitted.

Here, in alphabetical order, is a list of others that were mentioned:

Airplane
Aladdin
Beauty and the Beast
Because of Winn-Dixie
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Chicken Little
Christmas Vacation
Elf
Gone with the Wind
Harry Potter (series)
Home Alone
Mary Poppins
Monsters, Inc.
Secretariat
Shrek
Tangled
The Incredibles
The Lion King
The Wizard of Oz
Toy Story
Up
Where the Wild Things Are
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

What is your favorite family movie–and your favorite movie memory?

A pleasant detour

I’m usually pretty eager to get straight home on a Friday night but this time I decided to make an extra stop.

I had spent all afternoon getting caught up on recent contests we host through RAK Giveaways. I updated our list of winners on the website and emailed everyone to let them know their tickets were coming.

Claudia Magdaleno of Phoenix was particularly excited to hear that her family had won passes to SEA LIFE Arizona, and a chance to see the new exhibit, “CLAWS: Creatures of the Deep.”

“My daughter’s birthday is on Tuesday, so it will be perfect,” she wrote.

Our mail had already gone out for the day, so I told her the tickets would go out in Monday’s mail. But as I walked out the door I felt a nagging sense of worry. What if the tickets didn’t make it? I decided to make a detour on my way home so I could drop Claudia’s tickets at the post office.

Nothing I had on my evening’s agenda was more important than the chance to make a little girl’s day.

Inspiration from an author’s real-life fairy tale

My mom introduced me to Jean M. Auel‘s Earth’s Children series of historical fiction. She and I both have enjoyed reading the first five of Auel’s novels. So when I saw a story about Auel in Thurday’s Arizona Republic, and realized the sixth and final novel in the series is out, I couldn’t wait to call my mom.

I had other family news to share (my son David just accepted a new job!), so that of course came first. And she had to get to an appointment, so we didn’t have a whole lot of time to talk. But just before we said goodbye, I started jumping up and down, finally remembering that I’d wanted to tell her  The Land of Painted Caves is out.

I love Auel’s stories, which are based in the European continent during the Ice Age. Her heroine, Ayla, is independent, resilient and resourceful. The series begins when she is a young child who is separated from her family, and her tribe, during a terrible earthquake. Her journey to survival and self-discovery is filled with adventure and fascinating, detailed descriptions that illustrate the tasks Earth’s earliest human beings had to perform simply to exist.

Auel did a staggering amount of research to bring a sense of authenticity to her writing. Getting inside the heads of characters from more than 25,000 years ago couldn’t have been easy.

But it’s Auel herself who captivates my imagination. She was 44 when she published the first book in her series. She had never written a book before that. As she promotes her sixth book, traveling around the country to speak and autograph copies, she is 75.

When I read Randy Cordova’s interview, I was enchanted by the audacity of Auel’s creative effort. She writes for herself, doesn’t worry how her books will be received and doesn’t bother with blogging, email, social media or “building a platform” for selling her books, which is what all the industry experts say you need to do. As I struggle in my own writing to bring dimension to characters who are living, breathing and actually telling me their stories, I am awed by the leap of faith and courage her effort required.

Her story is itself a fairy tale — of the very best kind.

The more things change…

In April of 1990, we published our second edition of Raising Arizona Kids. The members of our staff (all six of us) were young mothers. We wanted to do everything right. For us, that meant being responsive to what we were being told was a looming environmental crisis.

We printed our fledgling magazine on recycled paper. And we planned our second issue around the concept of parenting with environmental sensitivity.

Our cover story that month was “The Dirty Diaper Debate.” It offered sobering statistics (“18 billion diapers…are thrown in the trash each year”) and talked about options including cloth diapers and biodegradable disposables. Hard to believe — 21 years and at least 378 billion disposable diapers later — but the Arizona Legislature that year was actually considering a law to ban the use of non-biodegradable diapers. Clearly, it wasn’t widely supported.

Another story, “I Can Recycle This!” offered environmental tips for parents and described a Phoenix Clean & Beautiful mascot named Recyclesaurus, who was then conducting school visits. (I’m happy to report that a “Recycle with Recyclesaurus” program still visits preschool and early elementary classrooms, though under the auspices of the renamed Keep Phoenix Beautiful.)

My family didn’t have curbside recycling back in 1990. Now we do. So I guess that’s progress. But I don’t get the sense that disposable diapers are any less popular than they were in 1990. I get discouraged when I buy Costco toilet paper in bulk (hoping to avoid excessive packaging), only to find that both the package and the individual rolls are wrapped in plastic. And while I finally developed the self-discipline to carry cloth bags into the grocery store, I’m as guilty as anyone about using too many plastic water bottles, though I do reuse them several times before I recycle them.

I worry that our focus on the environment goes in and out of fashion depending on whatever else is grabbing our collective imagination and attention. Especially when I go back 21 years to find that nothing much has changed.

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P.S. Some RAK “small world” trivia: The baby on our cover in April 1990 was Colleen Burns, then 11 months old. Her mom, family law attorney Annette Burns, was interviewed by Vicki Louk Balint for our January 2011 article and podcast on “Why divorce attorneys stay married.”

Our story about Recyclesaurus was written by former RAK staff writer and editor Lisa Sorg-Friedman, whose husband, Daniel Friedman, took the cover photo of Colleen. After many years with the magazine, Lisa eventually moved in other career directions. Dan left professional photography for several years to pursue public school teaching but is now back on our staff as a writer and photographer.

Make my day: feedback

I was out of town most of the weekend, so I missed Saturday’s cover shoot with our 2011 Mother’s Day Cover Mom Contest winner. I’m eager to hear about it from Art Director Michelle-Renee Adams and Photographer Daniel Friedman when I get back to work on Monday.

Michelle notified our winner (whose name shall remain a secret until our May issue comes out). My job was to contact the two moms who were the runners up. They both wrote fabulous, heartfelt essays about their commitment to raising children who respect and protect our environment. So I felt very apologetic as I wrote to tell them they almost won.

“Your essay was a runner-up for our cover mom contest,” I wrote to each of the moms. “So while I’m sorry that you and your [son/daughter] won’t be on our cover, you will be receiving a gift certificate from Desert Ridge Marketplace/Tempe Marketplace.”

I wasn’t sure what kind of response to expect, but the messages that quickly came back were gracious and completely appreciative.

From Karen O’Regan of Clarkdale, adoptive mother of 12-year-old David:

Thanks so much!  I’m so pleased!!!  It is very exciting to be a runner-up! I have been a subscriber for years and appreciate your magazine. I especially appreciated the recent articles on adoption and handling grief.

From Molly Costa of Phoenix, mother of 1-year-old Keira:

How fun, that is so exciting we are a runner-up! I saw the [Facebook] post about the contest and figured, why not? It came at a perfect time because I’m just experiencing all of these “firsts” with my daughter and her enjoyment of nature and being outside. It is the best — amazing at what your kids teach you, right?

We give away a lot of great stuff each year — from cover opportunities to trips to tickets to new movies and live performances. We don’t always hear back from the people who win. So it’s very gratifying when we do. Shortly after I received those lovely messages from Karen and Molly, I heard from a mom whose family won tickets to the “Born To Be Wild 3D” movie sneak preview Saturday morning at the AMC Desert Ridge IMAX. (It opens to the public April 8.)

From Dana MacComb of Phoenix:

We had a great time! The movie was moving and lovely. We felt like we were right next to the animals.  I cried almost the entire time, very moving.  All of us agreed that it was a great family event.

And it was a great email weekend.

Post-a-day angst and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Light

Discipline is good. Obsession is not. I know this. Yet the message from The Daily Post at WordPress yesterday still had me tied up in knots.

“You’ve now completed 25% of the challenge!” it cheered, applauding the thousands of bloggers around the country who (like me) are trying to meet the challenge of writing a daily blog post. Three months down, nine to go. I should be feeling great. But I don’t, because I’ve already failed to meet the challenge. Two 24-hour periods escaped my attention, consumed by fatigue or other priorities.

Then came the April Fool’s Day prank. I wonder who thought it was funny to exponentially inflate the site stats? My tiny moment of hopeful elation was quickly deflated when I realized it was all a joke.

The hardest thing about blogging daily is finding the audacity to believe that you have something valuable to contribute to the universe. Many, many days I feel like that is far from the case. But I’m going to try again, starting today Maybe I’ll do better in my next 25% of the challenge.

So here’s my submission for the Weekly Photo Challenge, and my revenge on the person who suggested the April Fool’s Day joke: I spent part of my day taking pictures along the Batiquitos Lagoon Trail in Carlsbad, Calif. I’ll bet whoever inflated my site stats did not.

Sharing happy news

When Dana McGuinness of Chandler and her 2-year-old son Gavin posed for our October 2010 cover, you couldn’t even tell she was pregnant. All you saw was a beautiful young mom and her adorable son, both of them relaxed and enjoying their day at McCormick Stillman Railroad Park in Scottdale.

Dana is the public relations director at ASU Gammage, so she corresponds frequently with our “Stage Mom” arts blogger, Lynn Trimble, to keep her posted on what’s going on at the venue.

On Tuesday, Lynn got some news of a very different variety. I was delighted when she passed along this message from Dana:

Just a quick note to tell you you Liam arrived on March 25 at 7:25am. He was
7 lbs, 12 oz and 20 inches long. He has a full head of black hair and what
look like blue eyes. So far has been a great eater and sleeper. His older
brother Gavin is enjoying getting to know him. We made it home from the hospital yesterday and are adjusting to our new life.

Congratulations to Dana, proud daddy Sean and big brother Gavin!

Gavin checks out his little brother.

Make my day: Feedback

Writers and editors put a lot of information out into the universe each day and never quite know how and where it sticks. So feedback, both positive and negative, is what we live for. It tells us people are paying attention.

The following message came from Melanie Rogers, who wrote our April issue story, “The Kid’s Speech: Finding Support for a Child who Stutters.”

I had a stack of mail to go through last week, and didn’t realize the magazine was out until I received a wonderful email from someone I know who saw it. I quickly went through my mail and am so pleased with the fantastic job your editors and art [director] did with the story. Nate was thrilled to see his picture in your magazine, and I am so glad to get the word out about stuttering support.

Thank you so much for allowing me in your magazine. It’s been a favorite for years, and I’m tickled pink that I had an article published by you.

Giving positive feedback, I’ve discovered, is just as satisfying as receiving it. So I wrote back:

Glad you liked the spread, Melanie. It was nice of you to write to say so! I thought the article (which came out just after “The King’s Speech” won the Academy Award) was very timely and full of helpful information for parents. I also really enjoyed watching the video you and Nate put together…what a great thing you are doing by empowering your son to educate others about his stutter.

The video I’m referring to appears on the home page of the National Stuttering Association:

100 mompreneurs and counting

It was longtime Raising Arizona Kids contributor Brittney Walker who came up with the idea of running a weekly feature on our website about local mothers who are running businesses.

Hard to believe we’ve already profiled 100 of them in our Monday RAK Mompreneur feature.

Brittney wrote the section for awhile, until she took a break to focus on family, community and church responsibilities. (We’re happy to say she’s got the writing bug again and has several assignments in the works.)

We gave the assignment to Brooke Mortensen, who interned with us right after she graduated from college in the spring of 2010 and continues to write for us as a freelancer.

Between the two of them, Brittney and Brooke have covered a wide range of mom-owned businesses. They’ve profiled photographers, jewelry makers, cooks/caterers/bakers and candy makers. They’ve interviewed moms who make fitness fun, moms who help other moms stay organized, moms with a knack for fashion — or finding deals, or dispensing advice — and even a “multi-mompreneur” who runs several businesses concurrently.

Certainly these moms are not lacking in energy, creativity or drive. They are a diverse bunch from all kinds of backgrounds. Each has a unique and interesting story of the journey that brought her to this place in life. But there are two things  that unite them all: passion for what they do and the desire to live life on their own terms so they can keep family as their first and most important priority.

As one of the Valley’s veteran mompreneurs (we started Raising Arizona Kids 22 years ago in my then-2-year-old’s nursery), I have great respect for those priorities and a deep and empathetic appreciation for how terribly challenging it can be to live up to them.

There is nothing harder than being a mom. And there are few things harder than running a business. When you’re trying to do both, your highs are very high and  your lows are frighteningly low. On your worst days, you are ruled by questions and doubt. You wonder why you keep at it. On your best days, you feel enormous pride and a deep sense of fulfillment.

And when you’ve been at it as long as I have, you start to gain a sense of the bigger picture. It’s not just about building a business. It’s about building a community — a family of people who care about something just as deeply as you do and sometimes even more. People who have developed their own threads of friendship and meaning within a context of shared purpose that wouldn’t even exist if someone hadn’t thought, “I wonder if I could…?”

The best laid plans

Sometimes the day doesn’t go the way you expected. Despite your best intentions. And because of them.

My husband and I planned to attend a girls lacrosse game on Saturday morning. We wanted to watch my honorary goddaughter, Ace Jenkins, in her first game of a new season with the Desert StiX. We showed up at the field at 11am, the time I’d noted on my calendar.

The game actually started at 10. It was my mistake; I’d entered it incorrectly on my calendar. So we missed the whole thing. But we enjoyed the chance to catch up with 10-year-old Ace and her dad, Tony.

Dan, who played lacrosse in college and was an enthusiastic fan for the eight years our son David played in high school and college, gave Ace some pointers. He encouraged her to practice picking up the ball with her stick, and explained a drill she could do on her own at home. Pickups are important, he explained, because the team that is most often in possession of the ball usually wins the game.

As we were talking, we noticed an older group of girls gathering at the other end of the field. As Ace and Tony left to go home, Dan and I walked down the field to investigate.

Dan, who still follows both boys and girls high school lacrosse in Arizona, quickly figured out what was going on. It was tryouts for the traveling team that will represent Arizona in the Women’s Division National Tournament at Stony Brook University in New York over Memorial Day weekend. Dan spotted Jessica Livingston, coach at Chaparral High School, who was leaning on crutches as she watched the warmups and drills from the sidelines. (She torn her ACL playing lacrosse a few weeks ago and won’t likely be playing again for the next six months.)

I needed a story for the Sunday website. Dan is always happy to write about lacrosse. And I had my camera. So my best laid plans gone wrong ended up right on track.

Read Dan’s story here.