Have You Heard? … Scottsdale

Whether you’re new to Scottsdale or just looking for a parent’s guide to all things local, Have You Heard? … Scottsdale has you covered. Created by a team of mothers who like to share their expertise, it’s your resource for the best the city has to offer.

Have You Heard? ... Scottsdale

Find fun things to do with the kids or locate local clothes and toy shops. Get the dish on family-friendly restaurants and where kids eat free, or enjoy a little romance with their date night recommendations. Get social with their MOM SOS listings of clubs, playgroups, and Mommy and Me classes.

Planning a birthday party? Browse through venues, caterers, and in-home entertainment. Looking for pediatric doctors and dentists? They’ve got the details.

Their Scottsdale School Resource Guide is an information goldmine. Among the nuggets of school stats you’ll find:

Scottsdale School Resource Guide

  • Total enrollment
  • Teacher-to-student ratio
  • Curriculum info by subject
  • Gifted and special needs services
  • Discipline methods / Behavior expectations

They also have AIMS and SAT rankings and a handy Scottsdale School Locator.

Moms, they value your unique experiences too! You can submit your tips, comments and stories. And, if you own a Scottsdale business, this is the ideal spot for advertising to a targeted audience.

Connect with Have You Heard? … Scottsdale on Facebook and Twitter.

How to put your kids in therapy for the rest of their lives.

The Bloggess recently had her 18th wedding anniversary. To celebrate, she considered hiring an evil clown to stalk her husband for a week.

What?

It’s a real thing, she wrote, and I followed her link to a Huffington Post article about a man named Dominic Deville. It’s an appropriately creepy name for someone who hires himself out as an evil birthday clown. He “leaves scary notes for your children” and “harasses his targets with texts, phone calls and letters to let them know their time is coming.” After a frightening week of this, Deville appears in a freaky clown mask to smash a cake into your birthday child’s face.

Dominic Deville evil birthday clown

Turns out, Deville only performed these services in his native Switzerland (for 666 Swiss Francs) and he’s no longer in the Evil Birthday Clown business.

On an unrelated note, Hudson (who is back to going by his real name) has a birthday coming up.

Oh, and I think I have an idea for a new business.

How to Make a Photo Slideshow With Music For Free

I’ve been wanting to create a video with my pictures set to music but I couldn’t find the right program to do it. One of my Internet searches led me to forums with answers from SEVEN YEARS AGO. I was searching for “photo montage,” “how to make a photo montage with music,” and “how to make a video with pictures.” No good.

A proper Google search, “how to make a photo slideshow with music for free,” would have returned Slide.ly on the first results page. Now I’ve found my new hobby. It’s super easy, which is perfect for me because I don’t have the patience for a learning curve.

It’s so simple it’s self-explanatory. But what kind of tutorial says “you’ll figure it out?” Exactly. So here are step-by-step directions.

How to make a photo slideshow1.  Create a free account on Slide.ly.

2.  Go to Create and choose Slide.ly Show.

3.  Upload photos. Add up to 90 photos. Source them from:

  • Your computer
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Google images
  • Dropbox
  • Flickr
  • Picasa

How many photos should you use? About one photo per four seconds of song.

4.  Sort photos. Shuffle or drag and drop. Choose the cover photo. Add text; it appears next to the photo instead of as an overlay.

5.  Choose the music. The sky is the limit! Select music from:

  • YouTube
  • SoundCloud
  • Dropbox
  • Upload your MP3′s
  • Slide.ly playlists

6.  Preview. In the final step Slide.ly lumps together several important options:

  • Choose a theme, if you want to get all fancy-pantsy.
  • Adjust the speed. Otherwise, it’s automatically set to best fit your slideshow.
  • Set the duration. The default is music but you can change it to photos.
  • Change the visibility. The default is public so be sure to uncheck the box if you want to keep it private.
  • Add a title and description.
  • Add tags.

7.  Save and share. Post your slideshow everywhere:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Email
  • Embed on your blog

Here’s a slideshow I made with my wedding photos. I used music by Norah Jones (our first dance was to “Come Away With Me”) and the Zoom Old Film theme. It’s not perfect but it’s pretty cool for only a few minutes of work.

Lucas & Melissa by Slidely Slideshow

Also read:
The Best Man Speech
Our Wedding Vows

If I liked it then I should have put a crown on it.

So that root canal I had? Yeah, I never followed up to get the crown. If it was the kind of crown that came with a throne and scepter and royal authority then I would have been all over that. But noooo, it was a really expensive crown that people would never see and they wouldn’t even know to address me as Your Majesty.

Eventually, that tooth cracked and then… surprise! My dentist said it wasn’t possible to put a crown on anymore and it would have to be extracted. If I liked it then I should have put a crown on it (I’m so sorry) because I spent a fortune on it, all for nothing. Basically, I bought my tooth a Harvard education and it became a traveling street musician.

The dentist referred me to an oral surgeon to remove it. In the olden days you got drunk and your four closest friends held you down while someone with a rudimentary tool yanked out the offending tooth. That was before the invention of string and heavy doors to slam. Now we have doctors who stab your gums with needles full of Novacane and use forceps to pull teeth. What a relief, right?

Yesterday I had my appointment with the oral surgeon. Before he got started he asked me what kind of music I listened to. Thinking he was just making conversation, I regaled him with my eclectic taste in music. Maybe nerves made me chatty. “Oh, I’m an 80′s girl all the way. I also like 60′s and 70′s too. I like a lot music. Anything except country. I mean, I even like some opera songs. And African Blues! But country? How do people stand it? Not for me. No thank you…”

Finally, I shut up. Then I realized what he actually wanted was to know what background music to play while he did the procedure. He picked one of my preferred genres and said, “Let’s just see what the 60′s and 70′s gets us.” Then he chose a station on Pandora.

And that’s how I got my tooth extracted to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On.”

Not the worst song to have played. What would have been? I leave it to the Internet at large to answer such a question.

This sounds like the makings of a Twitter trend where song titles are changed to dental-related stuff. Like, Bleachin’ by Jake Owen or This is How we Rinse by Florida Georgia Line. And the title of this blog post, of course.

Someone come up with the hashtag, please.

This is how we do it.

Jolie at the splash padSwimming pools and splash pads. Bathing suits. Water shoes. Hats. Sunglasses. Sunscreen. Otter Pops. Kool-Aid. Fruit smoothies. Lots and lots of cold water.

This is summer survival in Phoenix. It’s how we handle the blistering heat when we dare to venture outside.

Now is the time for those of you who live in cool climates to rub it in. Brag about getting in your car without scalding yourself. Tell me how you can take out the trash barefoot and it’s not like walking on hot coals. Tell me how chilly it gets when the sun goes down. You still get to wear your jeans and sweaters!

Am I jealous? Yes, yes I am. But come winter time I’ll be Christmas shopping in shorts and not shoveling my driveway. That’s one of the many things that makes living in Phoenix worthwhile.

The Boy Formerly Known as Hudson

The Boy who Changed His NameThis is the boy formerly known as Hudson. Yesterday he announced a name change.

“What is it now?” Lucas asked him.

“Mr. Swinger of the Dingers,” he answered.

After our hysterical laughter died down, we asked where he came up with that name. Turns out it’s based on the lyrics to The Jungle Book’s “I Wanna Be Like You:”

“I’m the king of the swingers, the jungle V.I.P.
I’ve reached the top and had to stop
And that’s what’s bothering me.”

Madison was the queen of misheard song lyrics. She still sings “I’m blue da ba dee da ba die” as “I’m blue if I was green I would die.”

Then again, Lucas thought they were singing “the smartest trooper” in the chorus of “I Know This Much is True.” I thought Boy George sang “you’re my lover not my Bible” instead of rival.

I guess it runs in the family.

You can probably get to Hogwarts through my front yard.

You might be behind on your yard work. Grass to mow. Weeds to pull. Bushes to prune.

Please allow me to make you feel better:

Mesquite trees eating my house

This was my front yard a week ago.

On my street you pass tidy, manicured lawns – one even has a flag pole with an Old Glory snapping in the wind. Then you got to my house and it was being swallowed by mesquite trees. Or maybe they’re not mesquite trees. I don’t even know.

One time a small, thorny branch in the yard stabbed my foot when I stepped over it in my flip flops. Immediately there was a painful, hard, pea-size lump where it pierced me. Are mesquites violent trees that attack people without provocation? Or could these be Whomping Willows that lead to the Shrieking Shack in Hogsmeade?

Whatever these trees are, one of the branches snapped and lay in a slump. No tempestuous winds or bolts of lightning. It was just too heavy and it buckled under its weight.

Did I mention we live in a corner house? Off a busy thoroughfare? It was so embarrassing.

Fallen tree

The kids thought it was cool having our own private jungle. I felt like I should swing through my front door on a vine like Jane.

Finally, the landscapers showed up to mark some branches with orange tree paint. Then they paced around, surveying the yard like they weren’t sure where to begin. And they didn’t begin that day. Or the next.

Hudson announced their eventual arrival by screaming, “THE LAWN MOWERS ARE HERE!” (If I ever own a yard work business I’m calling it The Lawn Mowers.) They were here all day and when they were through it looked like a totally different yard.

the trimmed trees

This is what remains of the fallen tree:

the fallen tree

Let’s see the whole yard in a before-and-after side-by-side.

Before and After

Now that the greenery is all gone I miss how it shaded the front rooms. And I didn’t even get a chance to look for a hidden passageway to Hogsmeade. Maybe it’s still there. A Butterbeer sounds really good right now.

Summer days drifting away

One cool thing about summer is the extra activities there are for toddlers to do. A local church hosts Tot Town a couple of times a month. It’s a gymnasium full of bouncy houses! Little Tikes toys! Trucks! LEGOs! And cranky babies. Totally understandable because it’s probably sensory overload for them.

Jolie couldn’t get enough of the mini kitchen and microwave. The only thing she cooked was tools, in particular a purple screwdriver. Someday we’ll talk about how metal and microwaves don’t play nicely together, like big kids in bouncy houses who think the tiny ones are there for extra cushioning.

Another reason bookstores are awesome.

Borders was the closest bookstore to my house. When they went out of business I was left with four choices: 1) The used bookstore around the corner – great if you’re looking for older titles and literary gifts. 2) Target – limited selection and too expensive. 3) Drive further to a mega mall with a bookstore. Or, 4) Keep buying books on Kindle.

I kept buying books on Kindle.

There’s a bookstore in Tempe called Changing Hands which is THE place to meet authors and have them sign their latest release in hardback. It’s worth the drive for these special events but not practical for a quick trip to find my next good read.

And then.

Something special happened. They opened a second store in Phoenix. On the freeway it’s just a ten-minute drive from my house.

Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix

On the first day they opened their doors to the public, their unofficial Grand Opening, I WAS THERE. I convinced my husband to take me because I needed to be with people who love reading and understand that in this digital-age the opening of a brick-and-mortar bookstore is a big deal. THESE ARE MY PEOPLE.

The Phoenix store has something the one in Tempe doesn’t: a beer and wine bar with small bites, appropriately named First Draft.

First Draft Book Bar

Love the logo.

It had been awhile since I’d walked around in a new bookstore Here’s what I’ve been missing out on by not roaming aisles and perusing bookshelves: Baby Lit®. Have you seen this!?

Baby Lit Anna KareninaIt’s a collection of children’s books based on classic literature. Anna Karenina, for your budding fashionista. Pride and Prejudice, with whimsical drawings to help teach counting. There were others based on Sherlock Holmes, Alice in Wonderland, and more.

I knew exactly which young budding fashionista needed to own these books immediately. She’s my sweet little niece who, unfortunately for me, lives in another state. But with a quick online order a few were shipped to her front door.

Don’t worry. I didn’t forget my Jolie. She will soon possess every single book in this series. If you know me, you know I couldn’t possibly not buy these. This is a visual of my thought process when considering book purchases:

Do you need a new book?

Enough said.

The Priceless and the Costly

I was sitting on the couch with my laptop when Hudson snuggled up to me and asked, “How long have you loved me?”

Usually children ask how much but he was interested in the longevity. “Since the moment I found out I was going to have you,” I told him.

Eye-roll. “No, in daaaayyyys.”

Oh, he wanted it quantified. I opened a new window in my browser and found an online calculator. “Well, you’re almost five years old and there are 365 days in a year. That’s 1,825 days. That’s a good estimate.”

This made him smile. “That’s a lot of days!” Then he pointed to the on-screen calculator and said, “Show me the number of how much you love me.”

Now he wants to know much. But how do you put love in numbers? It can’t be measured like that. I typed as many digits as the screen would show:

999999999999999

“That’s not even a real number, Mom.”

“Yes it is,” I said. “It’s like nine billion zillion. It’s a lot.”

“THIS is a real number.” He reached across me and typed:

123456789

“Okay, then this is how much I love you.” I typed random numbers, lots of 9′s, 8′s, and 7′s, something large that looked more like a real number to him.

He was satisfied. Then he asked, “Do you want to see how much I love you?”

Of course I did. He typed:

100

“One hundred!” he yelled.

To a four year-old, 100 probably seems like a lot. I’ll admit I was happy when he said, “Actually it’s more like this,” and he added some numbers:

1006210

Speaking of high numbers, here’s one I’m trying to calculate: the cost of a family trip to LEGOLand.

About a decade ago, LEGOLand was described to me as fairly boring and aimed mostly at younger kids. It stayed off my list of desirable destinations. Then last weekend my hairdresser told me her family has annual passes and they’re planning their upcoming trip.

“Really?” I asked in a tone that implied, Why would anyone go to LEGOLand when they can go to Disneyland?

“Oh, yeah!” she gushed. “Our kids love it.”

“They must be young. I heard there’s not much to do there.”

“There’s rides and stuff.”

“Rides?!”

“Uh huh. And a waterpark.”

How is it possible I didn’t know about this? Why has everyone being keeping this a secret from me?

“Oh, and if you stay at their hotel,” she added as an afterthought, “the rooms are LEGO themed and you can book a character breakfast and eat with Spongebob.”

LEGOs, rides, a waterpark, and BREAKFAST WITH SPONGEBOB?! It can’t get any better. It’s as if someone took Hudson’s favorite things and rolled it into one giant amusement park. Because does Hudson love LEGOs? Well…

Hudson buried in LEGOs

YES. That’s him at LEGO Fest one year.

So I went online and researched. What’s the cost of two-day tickets to LEGOLand and the Waterpark for two adults and two children?

$324 + tax

Not a bad price.

What about a hotel? Well, that varies. A simple room with beds and continental breakfast in the morning?

~$100 a night + tax

But what about a stay at the LEGOLand Hotel? The one that has cafés and restaurants, Castle play area, gift shop, and a heated pool with cabanas?

$429 and up PER NIGHT

That’s just a basic room without all the extra theme stuff. Although, it’s still pretty fabulous, right?

Adventure Room

Adventure Room

Yes, yes it is fabulous. Probably worth the money because, unlike some other themeparks open eight a.m. to midnight or one a.m., LEGOLand’s summer hours are 10:00am – 8:00pm. You’ll spend more time in your hotel than you would maybe if you were going to Disneyland.

I still have to crunch some numbers but I’m thinking tickets + hotel + gas (we’d drive) + food + souvenirs (a mandatory) + unforeseen expenses =

999999999999999

You know, about nine billion zillion.

Alright, maybe a little less. Still expensive but doable and totally worth it for the kids.