Tag Archives: Phoenix

MISS Foundation’s Mother’s Day Kindness Walk

Photo from last year’s event by Jimmy Carrauthers.

In its continuing efforts to support bereaved parents, the MISS Foundation is sponsoring “The Kindness Walk—We Walk for Them” in Phoenix this month.

The event is an international memorial walk to remember all children who have died too soon, and to honor those relationships on Mother’s Day, the most sacred of days for families. The walk stresses the idea that “death is not bigger than a family’s love,” says Kathy Sandler, executive director of MISS. “Even in their absence [the lost children] continue to walk with us, as we walk for them.”

Registration for The Kindness Walk begins at 6:45am on Sunday, May 13, at the Phoenix Zoo, and the walk starts at 7:30am. At the conclusion of the walk, a Kindness Project – “Beautiful Soles” – will take place as a legacy to the children. Participants can donate new or gently used shoes that include a message in honor of the children. MISS will donate the shoes to Valley organizations serving needy children.

The MISS Foundation is a non-profit organization serving the needs of families that have lost children of any age, from any cause. Register for the walk online or contact Nadia Stadnycki at 610-644-6221 or nadia.stadnycki@missfoundation.org—Mary Ann Bashaw

2012 Mother’s Day Cover Mom Contest winners

1st place: What I learned from my mother about being a great mom

By Mary Weisse • Photos by Daniel Friedman

My mom played with her kids. I don’t just mean in the normal ways every mom plays with her kids. She got down on the floor and played with us. I know a lot of moms who never do this and they are still great moms, but to me this was something that made my mom special.

Our house was where all the other kids wanted to come play. She once let my best friend and me turn our entire living room into a fort that literally used every couch cushion in our house. To top it off, she let us keep it up for a week. I knew that was pretty awesome at the time, but it really sinks in when you stop to contemplate this situation in your own home.

My 4-year-old son Jimmy and I are pretty frequent fort builders, and when he begs me to let him leave them up for “just one more day,” I can’t help but give in. Thank goodness living in an immaculate house would be unnatural for me. I would much rather live in a messy one where kids are having fun.

I would hardly put myself on par with my own mother’s patience and kindness (I still work on those quite a bit), but I like to think her playfulness rubbed off on me. In my house we make massive pretend-play setups of everything from LEGOs and Little People to cardboard boxes turned into airports. Currently, an entire room of my house is dedicated to a Playmobil Swiss Family Robinson island. I am confident my mother would be proud.

We were never spoiled because we never had enough money to be, but my mom had a talent for finding ways to make things special. We would wake up on birthdays or holidays to find decorations and treats. She would let us play hooky from school to go to a spring training game. She managed to plan creative birthday parties and take us on amazing vacations. She knew that family time should come above all else. We never had a beautiful house or nice clothes or fancy meals. As a kid sometimes I was embarrassed about that, but now I can’t thank her enough for giving us wonderful and happy memories instead of lots of “things.”

I wish I could talk to her now and ask her how she did it all, but I can’t. She passed away more than six years ago. My greatest sadness is that she will never get to meet my two boys, Jimmy and Gus. I think the only way that they will ever get to know even a piece of her is through me. When they grow up I want them to be able to brag to their friends about how awesome their mom was in the same way I still brag about mine.

Mary Weisse, of Phoenix, is the mother of Jimmy (4) and Gus (18 months).

About our contest
This is the fourth year Raising Arizona Kids has conducted an essay contest to select a Mother’s Day Cover Mom. For her winning essay, Mary Weisse of Phoenix and her family will enjoy a LEGOLAND California adventure, including four two-day Resort Hopper Tickets (valued at $400) and a three day/two night stay at the The Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa.

Our runners up
Margaret Caldwell of Gilbert and Bonnie Chowaniec of Phoenix, will receive valuable gift certificates from promotional partners Desert Ridge Marketplace and Westgate City Center.

RUNNER UP: bonnie chowaniec of PhoeniX

The treasures my mom entrusted into my safekeeping have taken a lifetime to unpack and to polish, and I know there are even more left to discover. Some of the most important riches she offered were simply invisible until I had children of my own. Others were bright and shiny, like the best new toys. And still others, the ones that would become my most prized, looked for the longest time like big old, misshapen rocks that I figured to be stuck lugging around for the rest of my life.

Bonnie Chowaniec with her two sons. Photo courtesy of the family.

One of my mom’s most fundamental teachings, which has become visible through the years, is that it takes great, enduring effort to build a beautiful life. Daily, she demonstrates that if you fix your sights on that beautiful life and stay optimistic about your chances of building it, then there’s nothing that can stop you; that time is wasted on complaining — whatever obstacles and disappointments may arise – and better served through responsibility and determination. The brightest and shiniest gift was the one she wanted so much for herself but believed her early experiences had placed out of reach. She would point it out to me though, over and again through the years, saying, “Take this one! Take this one and fly!” What was that tantalizing gem, the one that seemed beyond reach until recently? Passionate independence: The ability and self-confidence required to follow our highest and best dreams. Neither of us could figure out how to grab hold of that one and still maintain the intimate families we also fiercely desired. But, look mom! I’m finding my way, at last. I’ve learned that to be the best mom I can be, I have to be my whole self.

I thought those big old misshapen rocks were the one legacy from my mom that I could definitely live without. Heavy, awkward, none too pretty, they always seemed to be getting in my way. Of course, she had unknowingly hurt me in the ways she herself had been hurt. I spent longer than I care to admit convinced I always would be held back, chained to these damn rocks. To get free of them, I finally started chiseling away and, to my astonishment, I found they were diamonds, rubies, emeralds. I had to put in the work to reveal their deep and lasting value. And now, of course, I have even more treasures to pass on to my sons.

Claiming the treasures of our hearts is hard work. It requires a sort of invisible sweat, an abundant number of tears and other difficult feelings, and above all else, a commitment to love. It’s the last bit that makes all the rest of it possible. And the commitment to love is my most cherished treasure from mom. No matter what pain we’ve inflicted on one another, what’s always mattered most to her, and to me, is that the bond of our love remains healthy and strong. That’ll get you through anything.

RUNNER UP: Margaret Caldwell of Gilbert

When I was four years old, my father died from a sudden heart attack. My 33-year old mother was a housewife, taking part-time nursing classes. As the youngest of four siblings, I don’t remember much about my dad. I have lots of implanted memories my mother has kept alive by telling vivid stories, although she sometimes confuses which kid the story was about. But when I look back on my childhood, I don’t feel cheated; I only have warm memories and immense feelings of love.

Margaret Caldwell with Cameron (2) and Callum (7). Photo courtesy of the family.

When my father passed away, my mother began working to make ends meet while going to school full time. She worked nights and went to nursing school during the day so she could be with us when we got home from school. I still don’t know when she slept. She made every school game, performance and recital. I’m sure she would rather have been sleeping, but to her kids, she never complained. My mother graduated Summa Cum Laude with her Masters in psychiatric nursing, teaching us what you can achieve with hard work and determination.

When my grandmother became too ill to live alone, my mother took her in. She cared for her ailing mother for several very difficult years. The stress of working, four children and elder care must have exhausted her, but I rarely saw it.
My mother has faced hardship and knows how to appreciate life and family. Over the years she’s shared her experiences in speeches to grieving widows, stressed parents and burdened caregivers. In a recent speech about parenting stress she said “Children don’t know about your stressful day, and shouldn’t, they only know that they want you and need you now.” I guess that is why I only have loving memories of my childhood because she worked so hard to make that the reality.
My mother recently retired and has become a full time grandma. Visiting each child and grandchild, she’s careful to spread herself evenly. As a mother and grandmother she continues to show me how love can keep a family together and make it flourish.

My mother’s wisdom enters my life daily. I learned to treasure my children and see things from their perspective. I learned to take care of those you love. I learned laughter can be the best medicine. I learned to be a good role model and forgive the driver who cuts you off; they could be having a really bad day. I learned to celebrate life’s little victories. I learned that life happens, people die, so say “I love you” often. And most importantly I learned that a mother’s love can comfort, heal and strengthen.

Now that I have my own children I find her shoes awfully tough to fill. As amother of two, I yell, tire and feel frustrated. I try to handle situations with all the skills my mother taught me. But if I don’t know exactly what to do, she is just a phone call away.

Yoga in the park

Kristina Krump does a yoga pose at Steele Indian School Park, one of the venues for Yoga Rocks the Park.

Story and photos by Daniel Friedman

“I love that I have the privilege of making them my priority,” Kristina Krump of Phoenix says about raising her three sons — Jackson (6), Ellis (5) and Evan (2). But she has been emerging from the “bubble that is our nuclear family” for the last six years by organizing Yoga Rocks the Park, a series of six outdoor yoga classes with live music and vendors.

This year, the first class is Sunday, March 25 at Margaret T. Hance Park. The remaining classes will alternate between Hance Park and Steele Indian School Park.

Yoga Rocks the Park started in Denver, Co. then spread to Boulder, Co. and Omaha, Neb. The primary beneficiary of the event in Denver is Yoga World Reach. In Phoenix, half the proceeds of the $10 admission will go to a different Valley non-profit each session.

Kristina Krump

Krump hopes to see hundreds of yoga practitioners bring their mats to the parks and participate in classes led by two instructors. While the yoga experience typically involves quiet, secluded sessions in a studio, this will be more of a yoga festival in the sunshine.

Krump previously taught second grade for Teach for America in Phoenix and worked for the organization as a recruiter. She later worked for Sylvan Learning Centers and taught yoga at Urban Yoga in Phoenix.

By organizing Yoga Rocks the Park, Krump hopes to ease herself back into the world of business while bringing together people from many different yoga studios across the Valley to experience different teaching styles in a different venue.

Krump says the event will reconnect her with yoga as well as connecting yoga enthusiasts from a variety of studios from around the Valley.

“A big part of our yoga community here is that we want to give of ourselves, either of our time and energy, or our money to causes that we believe in, which is why it is important to me to have that tie-in with some local non-profits,” she says. “I would say a lot of people I experience in the yoga community are searching for ways they can contribute in a meaningful way.”

Krump has arranged for the musicians, cultivated interest in the event at Valley yoga studios, negotiated with vendors and worked with the City of Phoenix to make the event happen. She doesn’t know how many will be attending because some will register on the days of the events, though people can RSVP through Facebook.

Parents are welcome to bring their kids, who can either do yoga with them or play in a special area organized by Little Yogis at Play for kids 3 and older.

Krump says working on the event has been a new experience for her children, who are excited for her but at the same time are used to having her be available to them at all times. After the event is over she will take a deep breath and consider the impact it had on her family and professional life.

But yoga is definitely a part of her lifestyle, and her family’s. Her husband Nicholas does yoga and she taught her oldest son Jackson some breathing exercises and talks to him about the physical and philosophical aspects of yoga. Once when he got upset, she says, he told her, “I just need a minute. I need to om!”

Learn more about Yoga Rocks the Park-Phoenix.

Indoor play space draws parents and kids

Story and photos by Daniel Friedman

Kelly Pierce opened Koko Bee’s Playhouse in mid-September 2011 because she thought her Arcadia neighborhood in Phoenix needed an indoor play area nearby. She had driven her three children 40 minutes to an indoor play space, the closest one to her, and then had to wait 15 minutes to get in.

Koko Bee’s opened with very little traffic though over the months business “is starting to pick up finally” says Pierce, adding, “I’m busy  every day now.” Facebook, her website and sites geared towards moms were instrumental in building the business, but Pierce says she was surprised how hard it was to get the word out, as there is so much competition for attention online. She says it is too expensive to advertise a lot, but word of mouth has worked best for her. The morning I was there an exterior, illuminated sign was being installed to advertise to traffic on Thomas Rd.

Rather than duplicate the toys kids have at home she found older toys in good shape that aren’t available anymore like a Little Tykes washer/dryer set and a Little Tykes spaceship. Kids like to have new toys to play with in a different space Pierce says and she has a balance of toys that appeal to boys and girls.

Pierce says the key to her business is to offer a wide range of services. Koko Bee’s closes at 4pm but reopens at 4:30 for classes for kids in dance, yoga, tumbling and sports. She also sells used children’s clothing, has birthday packages , and offers free WiFi for moms to who work while their kids play.

Pierce says moms coming in to work while their kids play is the a biggest part of her business. Often there will be an entire table of moms working on their laptops working while kids play together. Once, a mother who was on the phone the entire time while her kids played told Pierce it was the longest uninterrupted phone call she had had since having kids.

Pierce offers drop-in babysitting for up to four hours, but only for four children at a time since she is not a licensed daycare center.

Planning for, and opening the business has taught Pierce a few things. One is finding money for unexpected expenses like paying up front for the first year’s insurance and having to make a payment to open a business account for electricity that isn’t returned for three years. Pierce advises, “If think you need $20,000 to open the business, have $30,000 as there will be so many surprises you were not aware of. And advertising is very important and very expensive.”

At the checkout counter she even sells a book she wrote and self-published titled, The Boy Who Would Be King (CreateSpace, 2011) illustrated by Nina de Polonia, about a boy who worked hard to achieve his goals. The book offers elementary economics lessons for children.

Learn more about Koko Bee’s Playhouse.

Sweet smells lead to success

Amy Ruble mixing a lotion in her home office/spare bathroom.

Amy Ruble of Phoenix planned ahead, doing product and marketing research and making business decisions even before she and her husband Scott started to try to have a baby. She knew when she was a parent she would work and raise her without resorting to full-time daycare. She opened her business, Pink Bow Bath Boutique, six months before her son Brayden (2) was born.

Ruble researched the manufacture of homemade bath and body products online and tested various scents and combinations of ingredients for her products. She prefers sweet scents like cupcake, sugar, vanilla and chocolate.

She always had an interest in handmade lotions and soaps. When Ruble was 10 she made an oatmeal-banana facial mask after reading about it in a beauty magazine. She liked the homemade beauty tips she read about because the ingredients were in the kitchen and cost less than store-bought cosmetics.

Now Ruble sells products like Cupcake Exfoliating Goat’s Milk Soap, Tea Tree Bentonite Clay Facial Butter Bar and Shea, Sea Clay and Grapefruit Facial Cleansing Bar. She mixes the ingredients in a spare bathroom and her office is in the adjoining spare bedroom.

Ruble makes all her products at after sourcing the various lotion, soap and shampoo bases, fragrances and containers online. Brayden is active enough, and the business has grown enough, that Ruble sends him to a sitter twice a week for a few hours so she can fill orders on her Etsy.com store and her own website. “I appreciate working, that is my time and my creative outlet and when he is home I can solely focus on him without stressing out,” she says.

She is keeping her business manageable for now, not trying to grow it beyond her production capacity and her priority to spend time with her son. Currently she works about 12 hours a week and will increase that as Brayden goes to preschool and then elementary school.

Business has increased each month since she’s been open and she does make money. She thinks the recession makes her products inexpensive luxuries women can afford. “If you smell good, or your skin is soft, then you do feel like you carry yourself maybe a little bit differently with a positive outlook,” Ruble says.

Ruble doesn’t foresee opening a storefront, which would require her full-time presence. She prefers to just do her work and interact with customers online and at craft fairs. She credits the Internet with making her business possible, not only because it allows her to work at home without the overhead of a separate space but also because it’s invaluable to researching the many ingredients and processes that go into her products.

Ruble says the Internet also has made it easier to be a mom. She doesn’t have to put her son in the car seat when he doesn’t want to and drive with him to Target to get diapers or other daily necessities when she can order them online and have them delivered for less money and hassle. “Now I go to Target just as an excuse to go to Target,” she says.

Learn more about Pink Bow Bath Boutique.