Whew, so it took me five days to unpack, wash and put all of our clothes away and reorganize the BabyLady's pageant closet🤣 NAM nationals was truly a blast and I really enjoyed how it was busy enough but not overly exhausting (even though I did get my 10k+ steps in everyday, lol!) In the NAM State Teen group we learned that Chloe was one of two or three Queens who had never been to nationals before AND won a title her first time competing at state. This pageant system is very different than the ones she's competed in previously, so I understand that is quite an accomplishment as the majority of these amazing girls start in NAM pretty young and compete year after year moving up through the age divisions and bouncing between the NAM and All American titles. (Confused yet? It took a LOT of reading and questions to fully grasp the magnitude of nationals - especially with IJM and the new iam Pageant Powerhouse stuff added in🤪) Side note: the nationals contestant handbook was 85 pages!! Mind blown 🤯
Clo was able to tailor her week as far as optional competitions and the wonderful MK Makeup Artistry was on deck for hair and makeup everyday, sometimes multiple times per day. The kiddo looked and felt fabulous the whole week between getting pampered and having lots of laughs in the makeup room and looking stylish in her fits 😍 Check out this adorable TikTok!
One of the coolest parts of the week was during the kick off on day one when the first ever iam Brand Ambassador was announced and it was my Chloe! As most of the folks who have followed her pageant career for some time know, she has spent a considerable amount of years in the community volunteering, working on her platform and representing her pageant titles to the fullest - so it really was a wonderful surprise and an honor! Later that evening and over the next couple of days she participated in fun events for the contestants (Neon Dance Party, Masquerade Ball, themed rehearsals) and she also elected to compete in the Talent, Runway and Fitness optional contests. She had also submitted a Photogenic entry and an Essay entry as part of the non-stage premium optional contests. I think there were about 10 different optional contests (maybe more) and probably about 10-12 iam contests (ex. Young Author, Academic Achievement, etc.) but she didn't want to be overwhelmed especially since she was getting her footing with being away at college, so she only did a few. It was wonderful seeing her get so excited for every event and being satisfied with her choices for the optionals too. Her amazing coach Kari Volen, owner of Pageant Coaching and Designs, was also really supportive and did a great job helping her prepare for nationals remotely and keeping Clo pumped up all week - she da best!!😍
Clo was 110% herself all week and that meant more to me than anything. She had the opportunity to hang with some of her favorite pageant friends from AZ and also a few pageant friends she knows from other states. Of course she also made a few new friends and the rehearsal staff loved her to pieces - she even earned one of the coveted "spirit sticks" that apparently only a few girls receive at nationals each year. For the most part her class of Queens were cool and fun, though she did feel a bit left out at times because most of them knew each other (and you also get the few who are in the zone and not super friendly) but of course she didn't let those girls or the moments being on the outside of the circle bring her spirit down. 😊
When it came time for the required competitions (Evening gown, Interview and Personal Introduction) she did her absolute best and felt really great after her performances. I LOVED her in the crisp white AshleyLauren jumpsuit and her beautiful blue custom couture Johnathan Kayne gown - both great choices that matched her style and personality beautifully. We are always grateful for the sponsorship and support of Patti and Glam Squad Prom and Pageant! There was a super tight timeline to get her gown (especially with her being in Tucson!) but it was a perfect fit and a stunner on stage💙💙 When we worked with JK to design it we told him he had to outdo that gorgeous orange gown and I definitely say he made it happen! We LOVE Johnathan and his team and it has been nothing short of a blessing to work with them on several occasions 🥰
Oh and we also totally forgot about the Spirit of America award, which was given out during the evening gown competition to all of the girls who competed in at least five of the premium optionals!
There were more awards given out during the week and Chloe was so surprised and blessed to be recognized 🙌🏽
To be recognized for her efforts on and *especially* off the pageant stage was definitely uplifting to her spirit😍 By the time finale night arrived we felt like the week had gone by so fast. Chloe was totally at peace with whatever the outcome would be, it was so awesome to have so many peeps in the audience and watching from home on the live stream. She was hopeful to be a finalist and one of her many goals for the week was to place in the Top 5. Although she didn't make it into the five she was excited to have done her best and be called as a Top 12 finalist - the group of contestants was truly top notch! We all had mini panic attacks since Arizona was the LAST to be called into the top 12... 😵 I think our little group was praying out loud for hers to be that final name called 🙏🏽 Shout out to her director Breanne for capturing the girls backstage as they called the finalists so we got to see Clo's reaction to being called as a finalist❤❤
Overall I would give nationals week and the entire experience leading up to it a 9 out of 10! There were a few things that prevented it from being absolute perfection, but after a decade of pageantry and competing in four major systems in the past five years that "9" is well deserved in my book! As a super organized, slightly OCD, timely Momager who loves to be involved and NEEDS to be informed about what we are getting ourselves into I have to say NAM was the bomb.com. I can clearly see why these young ladies who start in this system as littles and pre-teens stay here and come back year over year. I'm not oblivious to the politics of pageantry and I have to honestly say it wasn't as in your face as we've seen elsewhere. (I'm saving those stories for the memoirs!) I am glad to say Chloe is now forever a part of the #namily - #iamily and in the NAM Arizona Teen legacy behind some amazing girls that we truly adore. Since she turned 18 last week she is now on her own to finish out her year as The NAM AZ Teen and also to decide what's next for her should she decide to compete again. She is still in the teen age range for most systems for the 2022 pageant year and I can't imagine she will close out her teen pageant career just yet 😢 She did say she wants to get into the groove of her next semester of college before she makes any decisions and I am surely here for that!! Until then, I will continue to be the proudest mama in the universe😍 #TeamChloé
I absolutely had to share this today, I can't believe it has been a year since this amazing experience in Little Rock with the Miss High School America organization - click the links in this post to watch the videos!
Chloe was surely a part of MHSA history when she was somehow missed being called into the top 5 in the nation and they announced a tie for top 6 😲
*Visualize this* Your heart is beating out of your chest hoping that your kiddo makes the top 15 to be able to re-compete for the title. She makes it! buuuut you can't breathe easy because now you hope she flawlessly executes the on stage competitions (AGAIN!) and she does... then you hope even harder she makes the top 5 - and she doesn't 😔 but it's all good because she did her best! So you relax a bit and you're ready to comfort and praise her efforts and of cheer for the girls who made it (because you always have a few other faves that you want to win if your daughter doesn't 😍). Then the announcer basically says "HEY WAIT! There is hope for ONE of the girls that didn't make the coveted top 5!" 😳 So now your heart is in your throat for the longest 5 seconds of your life and you're cautiously optimistic and saying a tiny prayer like "could it be?! Nah. But maybe, but nah. But... please Lord, I won't ask for... AHHHHHHHHHHH! IT IS MY KID!!" Watch this video again - you surely hear me SHOUT as soon as the "Air" in Arizona came out of the host's mouth 😂
Clo slayed her on stage question and ended her week as 1st runner up in the country! Every pageant girl dreams of winning her state pageant, but having the opportunity to compete on a national level and be a top finalist (shoot, and almost winning!) is simply awesome. #socloseyetsofar
The entire week was actually a blast and the national organization really did a great job balancing fun and safety and not killing us too softly with the covid requirements since the competition was during the height of the pandemic - but that is probably a whole 'nother blog post, haha! The best part of the week was definitely the new friendships that Clo made - pageant girls really do get along splendidly! I met some amazing mamas and girls that I'm keeping forever too😉
Now one year later she is blessed with an opportunity to represent Arizona once again at National American Miss during Thanksgiving week 🥰 I know the outcome is already ordained, so I just pray that she has a fun time and makes more unforgettable memories 🧡 #TeamChloéForever
Chloe found pageantry when she was 8-years-old... after she lost her very first pageant she would spend hours on YouTube watching National American Miss videos trying to "learn how to be a pageant girl" 😍 On her very first vision board she glued a big photo of the NAM state crown right in the center and said "one day I'm going to have that crown and then I'm going to grow up and be Miss Universe!" 👑
Most of you know her journey - some only over the past few years, but it began in 2011 with Little Miss Jabberwock 2012 & 2013 (lost twice), Miss Pre-teen Phoenix 2012 (lost) Arizona's Little Miss 2013 (first "little" win, two losses) Miss Black Arizona 2013 & 2014 (lost first year, won 2nd year), America's Little Miss 2016 (2nd ru), MAOTeen National Princess program 2016, Miss Arizona's Outstanding Teen 2017, 2018, 2019 (Top 10, then 1st ru twice), Miss High School America 2020 (1st ru), Miss Arizona Teen USA 2021 (3rd ru) and now... NAM!
There was zero intention for Chloe to compete at NAM Arizona (CA/NV) this past weekend - we were helping out the Glam Squad pop up shop and supporting pageant sisters who were competing. There were no freshly waxed brows or spray tanned arms, her hair was pulled back and wild, no polish on her nails - she was steaming dresses and playing with her friends 😂 However, EVERY person who knows Clo took a moment to congratulate her on a job well done at AZ Teen USA two weekends ago and asked if she was competing at NAM that weekend. She would giggle graciously and say no, she was there for friends. Plus we are known to be ONE pageant per year girls - she takes her approach to the title very seriously, lol! (No, but seriously - she does!) Well, after a good five hours of the constant asking would she be competing for NAM AZ Teen, she started thinking perhaps she should consider it. Patti says "well, you have the dress and everything you'd need - I say go for it" (if you know Ms. Patti, you know how convincing she is 😝) Clo looks at me and asks what I think and I say "you're going to college in less than a month so you have to make the decision on your own, BabyLady. I will absolutely support whatever you want to do." She starts to seriously lean towards a ridiculously strong MAYBE (and at this point it is around 6:30pm on Friday) - then her hair and makeup friends walk past and say hey to Clo and congratulate her on the last pageant and ask if she's competing🤪 At this point Chloe is starting to freak out a bit... she's like "I have never done NAM! I don't have a personal introduction! My memorization skills are terrible (she ain't lying y'all!) I don't know, let me call my bestie!" She runs to a corner and calls her bestie in Ohio who is a former NAM state queen and nationals top finalist - and of course bestie says "MISS GIRL! DO IT! I'll send you my intro so you can hear how it goes and then we'll write one for you real quick." At this point I'm like lordy, what have I agreed to support?!
*insert a full hour of putting at least 10,000 steps on my smart watch running back and forth through the lobby and ballrooms to get paperwork, find the business center, talk to people, laugh with people, look at Clo's freaked out face, find the director to ask if this is even possible, asking Patti if she can sew the sexy Teen USA split on the gown (that we JUST had put into the gown🤪) down to her knee, figuring out hair and makeup, asking what is the NAM criteria, what do we need, what do we do, who are we, how are we... Okay let's freaking do it!*
I see my pageant mama bestie in the lobby and tell her what's happening and she thinks I'm saying Clo is going to compete at nationals (IJM) - I'm like "no girl, this child is talking about competing tomorrow!" 🤯 Her daughter is competing in Pre-teen, so bless up - she has the freaking Presidential Suite! Uh, yes please! So she says go get Clo's stuff and bring it back here. We confirm registration is still a-ok for late comers, secure a hair and makeup spot for the weekend, have folks working on the 'dreaded' personal introduction and Chloe and I hop into my car to head 25 minutes south to the Homefront. We're in the car cracking up like "what is happening?" We are total overachievers in the preparation game so this is way out of the comfort zone but I say "girlfriend, YOLO! We're in the business of making memories. You're a pro, you have what you need, just go have fun and do you - 100%" At this point, we're starving and it's almost 9pm - we roll through Chick-Fil-A make it home and we're eating and digging in the "I just retired twelve days ago" pageant closet to find NAM appropriate registration and interview attire (for those who don't know, appropriate attire can be VERY different in each pageant system.) We narrow it down to a red jumpsuit or a pink dress - pink dress a little tighter in the rump, so we kept it conservative. At this point I'm texting my pageant mama bestie asking about shorts for opening number. OF COURSE MY SEVENTEEN YEAR OLD HAS RIPS AND TEARS AND THINGS HANGING OUT OF EVERY PAIR OF SHORTS. Now it's 9:40pm. Target is four blocks away and closes in 20 minutes - we pray "Lord, please let there be a single pair of size 2 decent shorts in Target. Amen." 🙏🏽 We gather up all things we can think of: competition gear, toiletries, laptop, chargers - and jump in the car again. Clo's phone dings twice - hair/ makeup time is 5:30am 💋😵💫😴 and version one of the personal intro is ready. 😝 She's reading the intro, I'm speeding to Target. We run in, we buy all potentially decent shorts we can find in her size... target is turning out the lights at this point... we head back to the car to drive back to the hotel.
**I don't even have to tell you the amount fussing that went on for the next 25 minutes trying to tweak the personal intro. She's seventeen.**
We make it to bestie's hotel mansion (sheesh!🥴) and the three of us get to work on finalizing the intro verbiage. A good 75 minutes later we're satisfied with the intro and I realize we have to drive back almost 30 minutes plus get to sleep to wake up at 4:30am. Ugh.
Next morning the kiddo drives herself to the hotel and gets to hair / makeup. It is raining cats, dogs, horses... you name it! And the humidity - WHEW! I thought we woke up in Florida! So by the time I get there (and might I add I'm still helping at Glam Squad all day, lol) she is ready to make it official. We get her squared away and she is now officially a contestant. Since I knew she still had an out until she actually had a contestant number (bwahaha) I finally text her Dad and tell him we're doing a thing and he's like 🙄 "have fun". He's working all day and most of the evening anywho... and bless up that my Pageant Mama Bestie's hubby is there with suit and tie to escort his own daughter, so he agrees to escort BabyLady too! Woo hoo! Everybody wins. What was NOT winning was that humidity - but #TeamMasKara had my girl right. Her edges were screaming a tad, but it is what it is🤷🏽♀️ she's gorgeous to me anyway!
*tender moment break*
So after Chloe received the coveted NAM t-shirt and socks (and btw we found the perfect NAM appropriate shorts, yay Target!) she went down to the Kick Off & Group Photo. I can only imagine how that went knowing that many of the girls she had talked to the day before she told she wasn't competing and she'd be cheering them on. So when she came up I pulled her to the side and asked her how it went and was everything okay because if it was weird I didn't want her to not have a good time. She said "nooo, it was fun and I'm excited and so are my friends!" Awww😍 So she enjoyed rehearsals and fun time with her girls and somewhere in between (living off of 4 hours of sleep) worked on memorizing the personal introduction! At one point we went back to bestie's room and I looked over and Clo was asleep on the table😂 - so I left and went back to steaming dresses.
Fast forward to evening gown competition - she looked beautiful once again in "Shelah" (pronounced Sheila) and we were grateful for her to have had the most amazing and supportive escort. Afterwards we hopped in our cars and I sent her on home to hopefully get more than 4 hours of sleep - and I organized everything she would need for the next day at the bestie's mansion, lol. Made it home and she was unpacked and reorganizing - then she finally went to bed. I contemplated sending out my famous #TeamChloe email update to the family to let them know she was competing, but I let it rest (my Mom did at least get a quick phone call earlier that morning😉)
Sunday morning arrived and we headed back to the hotel at 6am, this time in one car. I was making her late, she was getting annoyed with me, but I know a lot of it was nerves because the personal introduction competition was at 9am. The hair and make up pros got her together (especially those edges, whew, thank you!) and she was off. I had to SWEAR I would not make ANY type of eye contact with her during her intro or else she would mess up... and it would be MY fault... because just looking at her would be the worst thing that could happen in those 30 seconds 😒 I obeyed the wishes and sat waaaaay in the back - of course she did a fabulous job and I was so proud. More importantly, she was proud of herself. From there she went to interview and a little while later and I went to the parent meeting and may I share, especially for those who do not know NAM or have not had daughters compete in NAM, I would hands down recommend this system for every girl. It was such a positive and touching meeting and it just felt GOOD. The director Breanne was great, the parents were great, all the people running things were great and the titleholders were the absolute sweetest and humblest girls too!
We had a little down time to eat and chat with pageant friends and for the most part (lol🤨) everyone was excited and supportive of Chloe competing and she received lots of well wishes. What was funny was that I soon realized that I was expected to assist her with getting into her gown after the opening number and I haven't been backstage with her during a pageant since she was 12-years-old. It was actually really cool to get to see her, hug her and say a little prayer with the BabyLady before she went on stage for her final time. The energy in the forum was definitely LIT and there were SO many of our favorite pageant peeps there. I had talked with quite a few of Clo's MAO sisters who were really excited to see her on stage again so soon - they definitely brought so much love into the room every time she hit the stage and I could not appreciate it more. I was the only one there as far as my family - and anyone who knows us knows that we roll DEEP - giant Chloe heads, buttons and we recently added the light up name to the repertoire, haha! But it was just mama 😍 and my amazing pageant family. Then she won. And that room erupted. I blacked out for a good 10 seconds or so but Chloe was on that stage finally having her shining moment and I could not believe it. She apparently couldn't either because her mouth was open the entire time (I can't wait to see the official photos and video 😲) and my mouth was open the whole time too. What a memory this will always be.
So that's how it all happened. The whole story from start to finish and then some 😂 I'm so happy for my favorite girl and honored to be mama NAM AZ Teen 2021! We can't wait for her year serving the community with this amazing title; which may look a little different while navigating college! And she is beyond excited to actually complete at nationals in Orlando this year - and this time my family will know about it too🤪 Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk. #TeamChloé