Chances are you and the kiddos spent a lot more time together during lockdowns. Despite all the angst and havoc inflicted by the pandemic, there was one silver lining—families had time to grow closer. There was time for unhurried conversations and family meals, playing games and watching movies together. You probably even found yourself suddenly thrust into your child’s daily school work like never before—keeping a close eye on Zoom classes and online assignments.
Sure, all that forced togetherness wasn’t always ideal. There may have even been times when you thought your kids were driving you a little bit crazy. Still, it was a rare opportunity to really see and appreciate the amazing, individual people your kids really are.
As our lives begin to return to normal, you may be struck by just how complete your family is—just the way it is right now. Whether you have a matching set or can field an entire swim team, you may realize you have everything you want in the way of a tight-knit family. So how do you hold onto this perfection?
Birth control: the imperfect control of perfection.
It’s no secret that women have traditionally carried the greatest responsibility for birth control. Today, modern medicine gives women lots of options. Spermicide foams and jellies, non-hormonal gels, diaphragms, the cervical cap, sponges, pills, patches, vaginal rings, shots, implants, IUDs—even surgery (tubal ligation). They all reduce the risk for pregnancy and can help couples plan their families. Still, they can be complicated, expensive, inconvenient or come with health risks and side effects. Although many of them do a good job of preventing pregnancy, none of them are 100 percent effective.
There’s another option, though.
Let your man man up.
When it comes to male birth control, there are two options: condoms and the “v” word—vasectomy. Many men don’t like using condoms. And just as many will wince when they think about a surgical knife coming anywhere near their manhood. They are very protective of the family jewels.
While the thought of a little snip-snip in that area makes some guys cringe, nearly 500,000 men in the United States have a vasectomy every year because it’s a simple procedure. With just one or two small incisions, the vas deferens (the two tubes that move sperm) are cut or sealed off so sperm can’t reach the semen ejaculated from the penis. Because sperm is cut off, vasectomies are 99 percent effective against pregnancy.
Here’s the bonus good news!
Along with being so effective in preventing pregnancy, vasectomy doesn't affect a man's libido, sexual function or semen production. Men still experience normal orgasms! A vasectomy simply prevents sperm from mixing with other seminal fluids. After a vasectomy, a man still ejaculates normally, but sperm will no longer be present in his ejaculatory fluid.
Let our “V” team help.
With more than 20 experienced and compassionate urologists—including skilled micro surgeons who specialize in vasectomy—Urology Partners of North Texas (UPNT) is honored to help couples with their family planning.
"Not only is vasectomy a quick and inexpensive procedure, but other than abstinence it is the most effective form of birth control,” says Dr. Adam Hollander.
Routinely performed since the end of World War II, studies show that only one or two women out of 1,000 get pregnant every year after their partners have a vasectomy. The minor procedure usually takes about 20 minutes and is often performed right in our urology clinic under local anesthesia. Given its efficacy and relative simplicity, men have good reasons to feel very comfortable with their decision to have a vasectomy.
Many men consider vasectomy a loving gift.
After years of watching the mother of their children cope with months of pregnancy and the pain of childbirth, they view it as a chance to do their part. “I’ve had many men tell me, ‘It’s only fair that I do this for my wife. She’s been through a lot.’” says Dr. Jason Poteet.
Following the procedure, some men have a small risk for bleeding, bruising and infection. Strenuous activity is restricted for five to seven days during recovery. Many men schedule their vasectomy for a Thursday or Friday so they can rest on Saturday and Sunday (a terrific excuse to binge watch sports all weekend).
It is also extremely important for men to check with their UPNT physician before having unprotected sex following their vasectomy. A semen analysis a few months post-vasectomy can confirm that sperm is no longer present in semen.
What if you change your mind?
“Most vasectomies can be reversed—even if several years have passed since the procedure,” Dr. Weber Chuang explains. “Although a reversal doesn’t guarantee success in conceiving a child, studies show that men have a 40 to 90 percent success rate of sperm returning to the semen. “We want to make sure men know about all their options so they can make informed decisions about vasectomy and vasectomy reversal.”
So, is your family ready to take the plunge?
Urology Partners of North Texas is a Diamond Level Sponsor for FWMoM. They have a compassionate group of doctors offering many services including assistance with infertility, male and female incontinence, and the ultimate long-term birth control—precision vasectomy. They are conveniently located throughout the metroplex with locations in Fort Worth, Grapevine, Arlington, Mansfield, Grapevine, Irving and Weatherford.
Follow them on Facebook!
To learn more about their doctors, services or to schedule a consultation, please visit their website at www.upnt.com or call 866-367-8768.
On February 13, 2013, I announced on Facebook that my husband David and I were debt free, and we had paid off $51,000 in 3.5 years. We have been debt free, except for a mortgage, for 8 years now. There was no inheritance, no lottery winnings, not even an income above $40,000 per year. There was only steady progress and deliberate decisions.
Forbes places the average net worth of an under-35-year-old at just $14,000. In 2020 in a Federal Reserve Survey, 38% of respondents said they would not be able to afford $400 for an emergency with the money currently in their bank account. The average American is saddled with consumer debt that seriously hinders their risk tolerance, prevents them from leaving bad jobs (or bad bosses!), and promotes a poverty mindset. Living beyond your means is a prison.
Here is our $51,000 breakdown:
So how do you do it? Get on the same plan! We used Dave Ramsey. He advocates “gazelle intensity”, or taking drastic measures to save money so we could dump it all into debt repayment. We moved in with my parents, drove 10 year old cars, and cooked from scratch. We sold anything that wasn’t essential and took on extra jobs. Subscriptions and memberships got the axe. The budget was king, and the thrift store was my kingdom.
We communicated about everything to make it work. That’s the second step. If you combine finances like we did, each has to know what the other is spending on. We did have small allowances each month, which we could spend freely. Any time one category went over, we worked together to figure out another category to get the money from.
People thought that we were a little crazy. Okay, I was a little crazy. I took this as a challenge to see how low I could go, and yes, there is a line—washing cloth diapers by hand is my line! But it’s hard to adequately describe the benefits of paying off debt. Our money goes much further because the only thing we pay interest on is a mortgage. We were able to avoid government assistance except for children’s health insurance, and we avoided the dependence mindset. Part of the Dave Ramsey plan includes building an emergency fund, and having that security means we have the freedom to leave a horrible job if needed. We have the confidence, after paying off so much, that we can handle almost any financial challenge thrown our way.
Since then, we no longer follow Dave Ramsey to the letter. Buying a home with no credit was difficult, so I highly recommend that, if you have even an ounce of discipline, you keep one credit card, use it only for regular expenses, and pay it off in full each month. That will not incur debt, but it will keep your credit high, making any big purchase like a home or car much easier. I started with a secured credit card, and I have moved up to cards with rewards. I haven’t paid them a cent in interest. We also don’t keep a budget anymore, but the frugal habits that we developed have persisted. It’s like weighing your food when you start a diet—after a while, you can just see what the right portion is, and you no longer need to weigh.
Some things have stayed the same. I have never financed a car, and I have no intention of ever doing so. We recently bought David a new car, and the salesman was salivating at our high credit scores, so it was almost sad to dash his dreams by paying cash. Not paying interest more than made up for it. I scrounged and rode the bus and train two hours each way in my early 20s to save $3000 for my first car. By paying myself a car payment and driving each car as long as possible, I have been able to pay cash for each car we have.
Dave’s plan is all about being very intentional and intense about money, watching it like a hawk. I like to take a lazy approach now; it reduces decision fatigue. I have automated as many bills as I can, as well as automatically sending money to savings and investments. My investing style is “set it and forget it”; as long as I choose a market-matching index fund and keep adding to it year after year, I will be recession-proof.
Being debt free is just part of living within our means. We qualified for a much larger mortgage than we chose to take on, and because our mortgage was low, we did not lose our house when David lost his job and then had to take a job with much lower pay. I knew from challenging myself earlier how to cook from scratch and make do. We still live comfortably because we have already practiced this lifestyle. What would you do if your car was totaled? Can you pay your insurance deductible if you have a hospital stay? Not having an emergency fund big enough to cover these expenses is an emergency! Even very low income families can start saving. I’m not talking about the “skip a latte a day” garbage—I don’t even buy Starbucks at all. Everyone can do something, and by starting even at just $5 a paycheck, it creates a placeholder that you can increase as your frugal kung fu becomes stronger. Becoming debt free takes intention and consistency, but the benefits far outweigh the sacrifices.
Financial Peace University, Dave Ramsey
America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money, Steve and Annette Economides
I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Ramit Sethi
Aubrey True is a mother of five kids under 11, including 4 year old twins. She has lived in Azle and Weatherford for most of her life. Her interests include coffee, reading, minimalism, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
David and I have never made big money while we were a couple, but we are fantastic frugal ninjas, and we have been able to live a good life. What’s our secret? We are content with what we have.
Our biggest financial challenge yet came when David was long haul trucking and got into an accident. Don’t worry, no one was injured, but the company let him go. I was pregnant, but I wasn’t worried yet, since I thought he could easily find another trucking job. Then his job search stretched and stretched and stretched on. Instead of living larger, I had saved aggressively when his income was way more than we needed, so we had enough to get by on now. We found out it was twins, and then we had the twins, and he still hadn’t found a job. (Well, he had, but it was pizza delivery—been there, done that, and I knew he could do better.) When the twins were 2 months old, 9 months after losing his job, David was hired again.
I’m not made of stone. It really hurt to see our diligently gathered savings dwindle. But out of that hardship came one of the best things when having twins—David was able to help me care for them full time for two months! Just seeing the strong bond between the boys and their dad made it all worth it.
David is still working at a warehouse, and yes, for a family of seven, it is a small income. We give up a lot of things we don’t care much about to make sure our necessities and our most wanted luxuries are covered. I can’t change our income much, but what I can control is my attitude. And if I get the itch to buy something expensive, I make a comparison. These shoes cost four times as much as the other ones, but are they four times better? Almost every time, the answer is no, and I can happily buy the shoes in my budget. I also get a kick out of using things up completely, a handy knack for a frugal ninja. We are about to buy our next car, and I will enjoy passing our 18-year-old minivan to its next owner because we got full use out of it.
Kids are masters of being content with enough. My son Brendan raids the recycling to create robot suits, and he created his own deck of Faux-kemon cards instead of buying some. My daughter Ivy regularly buys her own candy, and then shares half the bag with her siblings. She also used her own money to bribe the twins to do a chore, even though I said she could use the money for allowances (generous, but also big brain). She doesn’t care about giving of her own as long as she has enough for herself.
This stage of life has its perks. My kids are funnier than any Comedy Central special. I get all the snuggles I need. (Everyone needs snuggles!) I’m making an impact on the world that will last long beyond me by raising competent, caring adults. It’s easy to be happy with a bounty like that.
Aubrey True is the mother of five kids under 11, including 4 year old twins. She has lived in Azle and Weatherford for most of her life. Her interests include coffee, reading, minimalism, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Wow, what a night we had on Sunday, May 2nd at The Gardens at Los Vaqueros! 63 of our fabulous moms of twins and triplets gathered together to celebrate the one, beautiful thing that ties us all together; motherhood. For those who don’t know the history of the event, in the past it was called Baby Shower and was held once a year specifically to honor moms who were pregnant or had given birth in the last year. In recent years however, we’ve shifted to an event that celebrates ALL of our moms!
Donations were procured from over 50 local vendors so most moms were able to go home with a prize just for walking through the door!
However, moms whose numbers weren’t drawn were still able to choose from a table of small prizes set aside specifically for this purpose. We didn’t forget about our new moms though; they were each given a gift bag containing a bottle of scented lotion and a sample of bath salts. Every mom in attendance went home with a swag bag filled with small donations and discount vouchers from local businesses plus a small succulent planted in a glass jar customized for the event with a geometric butterfly reminiscent of the gorgeous mural member Katlin Smith painted and loaned to FWMoM for the event. MoMs used the mural as a backdrop for pictures, both solo and with friends.
One of our platinum sponsors, Fort Worth Fertility, held exclusive naming rights to this event and was featured on both the programs and the event poster. Below, you’ll find a list of all the donors who contributed to Celebrating MoMs 2021. If you were unable to make it to this fantastic event, we’re sorry we missed you and we hope you join us for it next year. It’s always an amazing night to connect with friends and make new friends, too!
Aledo Party Cakes, Koula Budler
Altitude Trampoline Park
AuPairCare Area Director Lizy Pinon
BeWREATH It or Not
Bijou by Crystal Colon
Billy Bob’s Texas
Chef Tim Love
Cloth + Stitch
Cookie Dough Bliss
Dallas Mavericks, Rema Kornblith
Down South Co.
Flow Fusion LLC, Wendy Lee
FW Museum of Science and History
Health and Healing PT, Amanda Sneed
Holland Harris Photography
House of Air Crowley, owner Emily Furney
Jade, Rose, and Sage
Jet’s Pizza, Kristy Flaim
Kaila Horrillo; Scentsy
Kate Weiser Chocolate
Kick House, Katherine Smith
Little Bow Peep DFW, Kristin Pace
Nothing Bundt Cakes
Pep Talk owner and SLP, Sam Beck
Play Street Museum
Pomifera Partner Kelly Rosser
Sacred Oasis Massage
Sew Many Thoughts
Shop the Pair, Cami Karamatic
Sleep Wise consultant Melina Moses
Wings n Whimsy artist Katlin Smith
Emily Dennis is a stay at home mom to 6 year old Caroline and 3.5 year old triplets, Jameson, Shepherd, and Audrey. She currently serves the FWMoM board as the Special Events Coordinator.
Samantha Beck MS, CCC-SLP
My kids HATE being cooped up indoors for too long with each other. I have three year old triplets who are REALLY starting to show their independence and test my nerves and patience! Having built-in besties is great for my kids...until one steals the other’s Barbie doll or smashes the other’s play doh tower...then it turns into an all out screaming session. Uggh. We have to get out of the house for my sanity and to help the kids burn off some energy.
Since this pandemic started, one of the few places my kids and I could go was to local neighborhood parks and playgrounds. I found myself taking my kids to various parks in the area on a DAILY basis. Many moms and dads looked just as relieved as I was to have their kids out of the house running, climbing, and soaking up some sunshine.
I was spending so much time at playgrounds that as a speech therapist, I started to think about all the opportunities there were for language development at the park. We often think about all the physical benefits of outdoor play, but by using a few simple language strategies, or “language boosters” as I like to call them, the playground can be a language powerhouse!
I decided to choose a few playground favorites to focus on today: the swings, slides and sandbox.
SIDE NOTE: I let the kids bring a few toys (doll, cars, etc.) to play with at the park. I think it allows for more language opportunities and creative play. Plus, when you are at the playground as much as we are, you gotta do something to keep things fresh and fun! So, my girls will often let their baby dolls “swing” while they push and my son races his cars down the slide. Again, just something fun to try!
I may say, “Do you want to go fast or slow?”
“Do you want to go on the tire swing or the blue swing?”
“Do you want the first swing or middle swing?”
“Do you want to face forwards or backwards?”
“Do you want to swing on your belly or bottom?”
Your child then needs to verbalize their choice (or you can model the desired response for your child if they are not yet using words; ie- ‘Oh you want to go on the blue swing!’ when they point to their choice).
Don’t just put your child in the swing right away. You want to pause and wait for your child to request to be lifted up onto the swing. Your child would then request “up”, “mama up”, “swing”, etc. before you would lift them into the swing. Is your child not using words independently just yet? No problem! This is a great opportunity for you to MODEL what you would like to hear, ie- you would say “swing”, “up”, etc. for your child to hear, learn, and possibly repeat!
Once on the swing, I encourage parents to again WAIT until the child requests a push using the same strategies as described above.
If your child is not yet using words independently, I want you to model single, meaningful words for your child (ie, ‘push’, ‘up’, more’, ‘swing’) as you are playing.
If your child is using single words (ie, ‘push’, ‘help’), you would model a two word phrase (ie, ‘more push’, ‘big push’, ‘mama help’ etc.).
If your child is using two to three word phrases, you would model short sentences (ie, ‘Oh you want a big push!)
“Do you want to go down the bumpy slide or the twisty slide?”
“Do you want to send the car or the baby doll down the slide?”
If you are physically placing your child on the slide, this is another opportunity for your child to have to request it (ie, “mama slide”, “more slide”, “more up”), or again model the request if your child is not yet using words independently. The slide lends itself perfectly to starting a phrase and then pausing/ waiting for your child to finish. So, “Ready, Set…(pause)... GO!” Wait for your child to finish ‘go’ or you can model the whole phrase for them. Kids of all ages LOVE ‘ready, set, go’ play! My kids love to send cars and dolls down the slide too and we can use this wait time technique with toys going down the slide as well.
My kids FAVORITE, plus some great sensory play
We have a bag of sand toys we keep in the wagon (yes, when you have triplets, you need a wagon to transport them and all their snacks, toys, jackets, toddler potty, etc). I just ordered some cheap sand toys off Amazon and they are worth their weight in gold for hours of play.
While filling up a bucket with sand, model “sand IN, sand OUT”. Talk about how the bucket is “EMPTY” or “FULL” or how the sandcastle is “BIG” or “LITTLE”. You can also model more words and phrases using the “one level up” strategy described above:
I would have never thought of this until my triplets started playing a “cooking” game with the sand and their toys. They fill up buckets with sand, “bake” them in the sand toys bag and then pull them out and “eat” the sand pies with shovels. Aren’t kids imaginative?? Again, lots of great language, sequencing, and social play.
Driving cars in the sand is also always a big hit and is great for modeling environmental car sounds (‘vroom, beep beep’).
I hope you enjoyed reading about these strategies!
I made visuals and videos demonstrating how to use these strategies with my own kids at the playground! To check them out, please follow us on social media:
Sam Beck has three year old triplets and has been a member of FWMoM since 2017. Sam and her family recently moved from Fort Worth, TX to the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a Speech-Language Pathologist and the owner of PepTalk Speech Therapy which provides speech, language, and feeding/swallowing services through teletherapy to clients residing in Texas and California. For more information on therapy or to schedule an appointment, please check her website at www.peptalkspeechtherapy.com
Oh, pregnancy is such a wonderful time. The excitement of what’s to come…then nausea sets in…and all the wonders of the first trimester. Then you find out you’re having multiples. Our bodies are amazing, that it not only can grow one little person, but multiples. Unfortunately for you, musculoskeletal changes come along with this oh so exciting moment. The influx of hormones to help make all your joints very mobile now causing posterior pelvic girdle pain commonly mistaken for sciatica, or the strain on your abdominals by growing amazing little humans, and don’t forget the extra weight put on your pelvic floor which can cause leakage and/or heaviness.
Not to worry, there are people who specialize in this, us, a Women’s Health Physical Therapist. Woerner Physical Therapy is fully staffed with multiple physical therapists that specialize in all the wonderful changes that come along with pregnancy as well as the postpartum phase. We help you get through your pregnancy as painlessly as possible so you can return to life, whatever that may look like. We are skilled and trained at assessing all the muscles in the “true core” which include your pelvic floor, transverse abdominus, your diaphragm (yes I said diaphragm), and the back extensors. We also know how these muscles are supposed to work together, so we can help you retrain these different muscle groups and make them work efficiently again.
Many women, even without multiples, have many issues during pregnancy and postpartum, but they believe the stigma of “oh that’s normal, you had a baby” or “you’re pregnant, it will get better once you deliver.” You ladies are going to be smarter than that now. Don’t believe the lies our society tries to tell you. No, it’s not normal. It is common, yes, but it’s not normal to need a Depends diaper or to have to run to the restroom every time. We help you make sure your pelvic floor is up to the job of life, to make sure your organs are being properly supported. Not only is this so important to help you function now, it can help make sure all your organs stay where they are supposed to be later.
If you sail through your pregnancy we applaud you, we are happy for you. But after all the dust has settled, make sure you are helping your body fully recover; come see a Women’s Health Physical Therapist.
Woerner Physical Therapy is a dedicated FWMoM Sponsor. They are a group of amazing qualified therapists and experts in treating anything related to the pelvis including pelvic floor dysfunction, functional dry needling, and so much more... both in both men and women. If you are interested in scheduling an evaluation please visit www.woernerphysicaltherapy.com/contact/ or call (682) 235-3816
Bluebonnets are here! Spring is my favorite time for photo sessions in Fort Worth. I love the warm weather and pictures filled with flowers! They are so colorful, happy and fun. Below, find my best tips for getting great shots in a field of our state’s most famous wildflowers.
Tip#1 Find a good field
Don't take pictures of your kids on the side of the road! This may sound obvious, but I have seen it and so have you. There are safer options, you just have to look. Check out this link for bluebonnet locations if you have not had any luck finding your own.
Tip#2 Stay out of direct sunlight
I typically book bluebonnet photo sessions one hour before sunset. I love to capture sunsets and golden hour sun behind my clients. The middle of the day sun is the hardest light to work with. It creates very harsh light and squinty kiddos. If the middle of the day is your only option, you can try to find a shady area or go out when it is cloudy. A little bit of planning can help create better pictures.
Tip#3 Safety First
Snakes and fire ants like to hide in bluebonnets (or any tall grass). Don't just send your kiddo off into the field of bluebonnets without first checking it out. You can throw some rocks into the spot where you want your kids to eventually sit. I also put my kids in boots instead of sandals for extra protection.
Tip #4 Get down low
Your kids are down low to the ground so you should get down low with them. Try a bunch of different angles really. Trying something new might result in something you love.
Tip #5 Relax and have fun
It is impossible to get your kid to smile if you are yelling at them to "just smile!" I regularly make things a game. You can have your kids spin, jump, play patty cake with their siblings, touch noses, have tickle fights, and really just anything you can think of to help your kids have fun while you take pictures. Real smiles make for the best smiles and best pictures.
There you have it. Now you are ready to take some beautiful Fort Worth Bluebonnet pictures of your own children.
I regularly host Bluebonnet or Wildflower minis. You can schedule a session with me and let me worry about making the beautiful pictures for you. www.stephaniereneephotography.com
Stephanie Hatton is a dedicated FWMoM Sponsor. She is a fine art photographer that specializes in portraits, family and maternity photography. Come read more about our wonderful sponsor in our Q&A blog that was done between Stephanie and FWMoM a couple months ago! If you are interested in booking her for a future session please contact her through www.stephaniereneephotography.com
This year’s Fort Worth Mothers of Multiples’ Great Big Egg Hunt was a great big success! With over 60 families of multiples in attendance, Tillery Park was all abuzz with twins and triplets, plus their siblings and parents.
A crew of MoM volunteers helped prepare 2000 eggs and 185 goody bags to put smiles on our kids’ faces. Included in the goody bags were toothbrushes from our generous platinum level sponsor, Legacy Pediatric Dentistry, who have sponsored FWMoM for many years and held exclusive naming rights for this fabulously fun event. The leftover goody bags were donated to Presbyterian Night Shelter.
Some teenage volunteers from Fort Worth’s Young Women’s Leadership Academy helped make the event run smoothly by manning the registration and merchandise tables and donning the FWMoM Bunny suit for family photo opportunities.
I hope that you’ll keep your calendar open for the 2022 FWMoM Egg Hunt and for all of the other events between now and then! FWMoM works as a support group because our members know each other, fellowship together, and develop deep relationships over years of shared experiences and raising kids together. So get plugged in and take full advantage of your membership!
Emily is a stay at home mom to Caroline, 6, and 3 year old triplets, Jameson, Shepherd, and Audrey. She loves to play board games with her husband, Clint, and she serves on the FWMoM board as Special Events Planner.
Since the pandemic began, you would be hard pressed to find an industry that is more changed by COVID than Travel. From new procedures and protocols to entry and exit requirements, it’s no wonder most of those who are traveling now have changed their travel habits as well. January is often the month where most people plan travel for some part of their year and at the Shameless Tourist we are beyond lucky to have seen a January and February to be booming with clients looking to plan their Spring Break, Summer, and Fall getaways.
“Long haul” travel has been placed on the back burner for many of us recently and most of our clients are looking to stay closer to home. We are so lucky to live in such a large country with so many diverse landscapes. There is a lot of domestic travel to choose from! Our top destinations have been Arizona, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and as always– Florida! Rounding out this list lately is Hawaii, which reopened in the fall and has been more popular than ever for travelers looking for a beach getaway.
Our big cities in the US are something that have always amazed me; the energy, the culture, the food! But in the past year we have seen a big shift toward the great outdoors— the Mountains and the Beach are where most of our clients want to be and many are rekindling a love for an old sport or finding joy in a new one. Golf enthusiasts are flocking to their favorite courses and finding time to check off the bucket list some of those courses they have always wanted to play. Skiers are enjoying the snow, fisherman are getting out on their boats, and even I have taken up a new sport– Surfing.
Longer stays, more luxurious hotels
With work from home and school from home being a large part of our lives now, another trend we have noticed is that most people are booking longer getaways. The short weekend getaway has turned to week long stays for many. I’ve also noticed a more dramatic shift in the luxury travel sphere– more people have been willing to book luxury hotel options. I’m assuming this has to do with traveling less frequently (more budget for getaways), less expensive airfare, and the desire for a stress free vacation. I’ve also noticed for my clients who have kids back in school, the desire to travel during school breaks has been immense, so I recommend if you would like to travel during the breaks, plan ahead!
Our Favorite Getaways
So, for the fun part– where are our favorite places to recommend at the moment? Where are our clients traveling to? Here’s a short list of some of our favorites:
· Blackberry Farm and Blackberry Mountain– nestled in the foothills of the Great Smokey Mountains, families, couples, and friends are flocking to these properties to experience all there is to see and do at life on the “farm!”
· The Cloister at Sea Island, Georgia
· The Henderson, Destin, Florida
· Bungalows Key Largo
· Little Palm Island, The Keys, Florida
· Viceroy, Snowmass, Colorado
· Four Seasons Jackson Hole, Jackson, WY
· Auberge du Soleil– Napa Valley, CA
· Sur L’eau– charter a yacht and socially distance yourself while having 1st class service. Sur L’eau is currently based in the Bahamas and ready for guests to come aboard!
· Zadun, San Jose del Cabo, Mexico
· Andaz Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo
· Four Seasons Hualalai, The Big Island, Hawaii
· Andaz Maui at Wailea
As a reminder, booking any of the above properties through the Shameless Tourist give you exclusive access to VIP amenities, pricing, and insider tips you cannot get by booking directly at the same price or better than listed online. Contact us today to learn more and find your perfect 2021 getaway!
Kaleigh Kirkpatrick is one of our Silver Level Sponsors. If you are interested in booking for a future trip or would like to reach out to her for more questions, please visit her website at https://theshamelesstourist.com/contact/
Being a parent is hard.
But being a parent to multiple special needs children is 10x harder.
My name is Lizy Piñon and I am a mom to Gabriel (16), twins Amelia and Alexander (DOB 11/10/09), and triplets Felicita, Frida, and Santiago (8). I am a Puertorican that was born and raised in Chicago and met my husband, Santiago, over 20 years ago. We moved to Texas when Texas Christian University offered him a job about a decade ago. He teaches religion and ethics. But more importantly, he is an amazing husband and dad. I am an educator and am currently working on my education leadership doctorate and superintendent certificate at Texas Christian University.
As a child, I had a dream of having a home full of children. While my friends wanted to be teachers, lawyers, mechanics, etc… I just wanted to be a mom. My mom was such a nurturing and caring person and I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. She was a kindergarten teacher in Chicago Public Schools for over 30 years. You do know that Kindergarten teachers are like the best kind of people in the world, right? She was my very best friend! I lost her a couple of years ago.
When Santiago and I talked about having children we had decided before we even got married that we would adopt our first child, have one (ONE!!!) biological child, and adopt our last. This was our game plan. We were very goal-focused and had this all drawn up in our family plan. So we adopted Gabe at age 6 (adoption is a whole other post), waited a bit because I was working on my masters in Education and working full time as an educator, and then when we decided to try to have a child, we ran into fertility issues (also another blog post). In 2010 we welcomed to the world Amelia and Alexander at 22 weeks gestation. They graced us with their amazing presence for about half an hour. We then needed some time to grieve after such a huge loss and we decided we would wait a while on growing our family. Also, at this time our oldest was needing our full attention so we decided to wait.
Enter, special needs mom mode. I was introduced to a written piece named “Welcome to Holland.”
They told us when we adopted Gabe that he had no special needs; he just needed a loving home and he would be fine. I was thrown headfirst into the special needs world with a very complicated little boy that had been in 8 homes before he finally reached ours at age 5. Gabe was kicked out of multiple daycares and private kindergartens and entered public school kindergarten in a behavioral classroom where they couldn’t just kick him out. I would get multiple calls during the day from teachers asking me what was wrong with him. I would tell them “You are the special education teachers, you figure it out and let me know when you do!”
In my humble opinion, the three most important things to do as a special needs mom are to first educate yourself, next get support from others who’ve walked this road before you, and finally become an advocate for your child.
#1 - Educate yourself: This is when I got important lesson #1 in being a special needs momma. I needed to be the one researching and helping to figure out the puzzle. I needed to be the one talking to doctors and therapists and coming to some kind of conclusion. I needed to quickly become the expert and educate all those that worked with him on how to help him. I was the one that could help them connect the dots between teachers, doctors, specialists, and therapists.
Then came our 25-week old triplets after a picture-perfect pregnancy with no real health issues. They came fast with no time to spare. Felicita, Frida & Santiago were born with a tiny squeal weighing 1 lb 4 oz to 1 lb 8 oz each. Felicita & Frida are identical twins and Santiago is the fraternal triplet. A fun fact is that the girls are both twins and triplets. They spent between 97-115 days in NICU and went through ventilators, oscillators, transfusions, jaundice, PDA ligations, ROP eye surgery, brain scans (with brain bleeds of all kinds), hernia repair, failed hearing test, etc. They thankfully survived but with all kinds of complications. We arrived shortly afterward in Texas with these tiny miracles. But we had no family or friends nearby. I needed to get educated about the triplets’ multiple conditions and figure out the best services for them.
#2 Join ALL social media support groups or real-life support groups: I realized that other moms who had been where I was were the best source of information on what my children needed. I spent hours on social media talking to other moms in the area. They gave me the names of the best local doctors, therapists, and specialists that I needed for the triplets. They also taught me the lingo, the special needs language I needed to know and use when calling for information, appointments, and services. I would call and demand to have them be seen by the best doctor in the department, best therapists (even if I had to wait a bit longer to be seen), and learned what questions I needed to ask to get access to the best treatments. When I first got to Texas I had the triplets each seen by a different neurologist and I told them I was checking to see which was the best one. I am now lucky to have found the very best one in the nation for cerebral palsy up in Plano, TX. I may not be liked, but I sure was respected as a voice for my kids.
#3 Advocate: Last and final thought is that you know your child the best. You are their very best advocate at home, school, the community, and wherever they attend. I have involved myself in school committees, at Cook Children Hospital and MHMR (My Health My Resources) - ECI (Early Childhood Intervention). I do this to keep my eyes and ears open so I know what services or programs my children may need now or in the future. We also need to share their accomplishments and their challenges so others also become allies to help in the good fight. I am thankful for all those friends that have helped lighten my load and have fought for them next to me, like their wonderful daddy. And some days the fight feels like a hundred pounds as I lift my 65 lbs daughter from her bed to the toilet, or hold my 200 lb son tight as he rants about some injustice in school so he will not self-harm and have to be taken to the local mental health hospital via a police ride. But when I see her eyes light up as she twirls in her wheelchair after learning a new dance step in her Ayita wheelchair dance team or when I see that he is able to better express himself in an artwork he completed, then I know that tomorrow will be better and the world is a better place because they exist in it.
It is not an easy path but I have loved every moment of being a special needs mom. I have entered a new world, made new friends, and am a different person than before they each entered my life. So if you are a special needs mom or dad, go out and educate yourself, make new friends, and fight hard for your children! Nothing special about the mom and dad we are. We have simply and humbly had to learn to be the special parent that our amazing children Gabriel, Felicita, Frida & Santiago need. Take the time to enjoy the trip to Holland!
Fort Worth Mothers of Multiples
P.O. Box 123874
Fort Worth, Texas 76121
Fort Worth Mothers of Multiples is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.