Birthdays are a time to celebrate with family and friends. But if you're on a tight budget, that doesn't mean you can't have a good time!
Here are ten birthday ideas that won't break the bank:
1. Have a picnic in the park - Birthdays are all about celebrating with the people you love, so why not have a picnic in the park? Just pack some sandwiches, snacks, and drinks, and you're good to go. If you want to get really fancy, you can even make your own birthday cake. Just be sure to pack some plates and utensils so you can enjoy your picnic to the fullest.
2. Have a movie marathon - If you're more of a homebody, why not have a movie marathon with your friends or family? You can either rent some movies from your local video store or stream them online. And don't forget the popcorn!
3. Go for a hike - If you're looking for something active, why not go for a hike? It's the perfect opportunity to get some fresh air and take in some stunning scenery. Just be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring along some water to stay hydrated.
4. Make your own dinner - Going out to eat can be expensive, so why not stay in and make your own dinner? You can either cook your favorite dish or try something new. Either way, it'll be a night to remember.
5. Browse your local thrift store - If you're looking for a unique gift, why not browse your local thrift store? You never know what treasures you might find. And who knows? Maybe you'll even find something for yourself!
6. Go bowling - Bowling is always a fun activity and most alleys offer package deals that include food and drinks for a discounted price. This is a great option for older children who want something more than just cake and ice cream.
7. Visit a nearby city - If you live in a small town, take a day trip to the nearest big city. There's always something new to see and do in a new place. Plus, it's a great opportunity to people watch!
8. Go stargazing - Head out to a dark spot away from city lights, and spend some time admiring the night sky. If you're lucky, you might even see a shooting star!
9. Visit a dollar store - Dollar stores have everything you need to throw a fun birthday party. You can find plates, cups, decorations, party favors, and even games and activities all for just a few dollars.
10. Make homemade pizzas - Get the kids involved in making their own pizzas for a fun and unique birthday activity. You can either make the dough from scratch or buy it pre-made to save time. Then let each child top their pizza with their favorite toppings.
I hope these ideas help you plan the perfect birthday on a budget. Remember, it's not about how much money you spend; it's about spending time with the people you love doing things that make you happy.
So go out there and have some fun!
Many of you have not had the opportunity to experience convention as 2020 was canceled due to COVID and 2021 was just a virtual business meeting. 2019 had tried a cruise so the last "normal" convention was held in Granbury. As you may know, the 2022 convention will be held in Allen hosted by the Plano Area MOMs from March 31- April 3. You don’t want to miss it! Plus... it will help you get ready for 2023, the 50th anniversary of TMOM that FWMOM will host! Did you know that FWMOM was a founding club of TMOM? Now you do.
Getting back on track. I often refer to the convention weekend as a ‘mom appreciation’ weekend. Often dad takes off work and cares for the kiddos getting a full overview of what you do, all the time. Being kid-free allows you to recharge. You might learn new tricks to help with your multiples, or how to do something new. You might even spend half the weekend just sleeping or making new long-lasting connections. This weekend can be whatever you need most... rest, fun, adult interaction, and/or time alone.
Yes, there are some logistics with time and money to go, but at this time FWMOM is reimbursing up to $200 in costs for the first 26 members who register!
So what are the costs? Convention registration is usually in the range of $100-$200 depending on how long you stay and what you decide you want to do. The hotel is your other big cost but many people share a room to cut costs, but since this convention is close, if you don't mind making the drive for whichever days you'd like to join, you can cut down on the room cost altogether.
If you can allocate the money for a room, it will be $119 per night plus taxes but does include the daily parking fee. If you'd like to stay all 3 nights the total comes down ~$407.35, but one room can be split up by 4 people. As for staying at the hotel, you should plan to stay at least Saturday night. Friday and Saturday are better.
Check-in will start at 3. Since this is an 80's themed convention, Thursday’s welcome party will be a roller-skating party. It will be fun even if you don’t skate.
Friday will have share shops, workshops, and some local tours. Late afternoon there will be a First timer’s meeting. If this is your first time attending you should plan to attend this. You will meet “mother superior”, the “queen bee”, and the past presidents. Many other questions about the convention will be answered. But meeting these past presidents will let you know you can approach any of them with any questions throughout the weekend. There is often a little gift for you too ☺!
Of course, you would then want to stay for the salesroom and the dinner event. So if you are short on time you could come on Friday by 3 and still have a good experience.
Saturday starts with the Business Meeting (the reason for convention) Delegates attend and vote on things. Lunch – used to be a keynote speaker at this. Otherwise, this is a good chance for the club to go out together. Workshops in the afternoon - GO TO WHAT INTERESTS YOU THEN SHARE WITH CLUB MEMBERS LATER. Dinner – This is the installation banquet. Usually, sit with your club, and you will have a chance to dress up and celebrate! Awards, new officers, and raffle basket winners are announced. This is also when the Scholarship winners are announced (another blog on scholarship information coming soon!)
At my first convention, I ended up with a notebook that was left on the counter along with labeling the kitchen cabinets. I had 4 different friends from church come to babysit Thursday and Friday. The first came at 9 am Thursday as I left, but she needed to pick up her child at 3, so another came at 2:30 and stayed until the husband arrived about 6. Similar thing with 2 others on Friday. There were also additional numbers of other women to call if someone didn’t show up. Fortunately, they were not needed. So all that plus the typical daily schedule was in the spiral. This goes to show that one very well deserved meeting, has left me with some of the best memories and friendships, don't miss the opportunity to create your own!
Sue Norton has been a member of FWMOM since 1997. She was previously a member of Arlington MOMs from the moment after she found out she was pregnant until her twins turned 3. She is am Mom to 27-year-old identical twin "boys" (Young men), a 30-year-old singleton and he is the dad to my 11-month-old grandson. I am also a Past President of TMOM.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to check out this post! Vertical Chiropractic loves supporting the FWMOM group and we are so thankful for the opportunity to be a sponsor for 2022!
Each time we get the opportunity to write a blog, we always want to share tips on health and encourage everyone who reads this on to live their healthiest life, naturally. In previous posts, we’ve discussed the importance of chiropractic care for pregnant moms and children. In the time our practice has been opened (just over 4 years!) we’ve had the blessing to serve hundreds of pregnant moms and help keep their spine and body healthy in preparation for labor and delivery; as well as see many infants and children break free from many common health issues such as colic, infantile reflux, ear infections, torticollis, and breathing issues... just to name a few. This time around, however, we are excited to share about a new breakthrough treatment protocol that our office is offering to help with - NEUROPATHY.
You may be wondering, "what is neuropathy???" We run into many people who have heard of the term but are unsure of what it means. Neuropathy is the damage or dysfunction of one or more nerves that typically results in numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, and pain in the affected area. The most common areas of the body where neuropathy is found are in the feet and hands. There are many causes of neuropathy, however, the most common causes are from the effects of diabetes, autoimmune diseases, infections, and induced from chemotherapy. What we have found with patients who experience neuropathy is a very low quality of life, with very few options to treat the disease. Patients with this condition are oftentimes recommended pain relievers such as Tylenol or ibuprofen and in many cases much stronger nerve pain medications such as gabapentin and Lyrica. We have seen these medications provide relief temporarily, but they do not address the underlying cause of the condition. In our office, we strive to address the underlying problem, rather than simply treat the symptom.
With much studying and extensive training in treating neuropathy, we are proud to offer a 3-prong approach in treating and reversing the effects of neuropathy. The protocol consists of at-home equipment (Low-Level Light Therapy and Rebuilder Therapy), Premium Nutritional Protocol, and In-Office visits (Chiropractic Adjustments). The equipment recommended specializes in increasing blood flow to the affected area, while also encouraging nerve re-education. The nutritional protocol is designed to help decrease inflammation, control blood sugar, balance alkalinity in the body, and provide a game plan to encourage healthier eating habits. The in-office visits are for correcting spinal misalignments and encouraging consistent spinal integrity, to allow for proper nerve function throughout the body.
We have seen this specific protocol work wonders for people in many ways in dealing with neuropathy. All too often we see people run into a wall with limited options to treat this condition and feel stuck, with no hope for better days. We are blessed with the opportunity to help people regain their quality of life and do so in a natural way. If you or someone you know is dealing with this condition, please feel free to reach out to our office at 817-330-9665 or email me personally at Drtrevor@verticalfw.com as we are happy to answer any questions regarding neuropathy.
Until next time, thank you for taking the time to read and we are wishing you a happy and healthy 2022!
--Dr. Trevor Adams and the Vertical Chiropractic Team
Vertical Chiropractic is a Diamond Level Sponsor, who is dedicated to helping their patients reach optimal health by creating a personalized plan that meets each person's individual needs. If you’d like to revitalize your health naturally and increase your quality of life, Vertical Chiropractor is offering a New Patient special! For chiropractic care the consult and exam is $40, and for neuropathy care the exam is $49. There is NO OBLIGATION to continue services after your consultation, but this could be the beginning of a better healthier YOU!
It’s that time of year to declare all the things you’re going to do better. Many of us make grand statements about what we are going to stop doing or start doing in the new year. Eat less sugar, workout more, make more quality time with the kids, drink less, keep up with laundry, spend more time with friends, less hiding in the closet when your kids have lost their minds. If you are anything like me it’s one week in and I am beating myself up about having failed to do all the things I set out to do.
For some reason, we have this belief that at the stroke of midnight that we are magically transformed into this body that will do all the things that we didn’t do well last year. Um….no, that’s not how it works unless you are Cinderella and have a bunch of mice working for you. New Year’s resolutions are easy to break but goals are more attainable.
So, let’s try something new in 2022. Let’s set goals this year instead of New Year’s resolutions. Goals are things you can break down into small milestones, things you can track and are doable. Start by identifying one small goal. For example, if your goal is to move your body more it’s not going to happen if you say I am going to go to the gym every day for an hour. For one, you have multiples and maybe other kiddos that’s not a reality unless you are some kind of super mom. Two, that is a big statement and if you are not currently working out, going from 0 to 100 is not doable. Setting a small goal that you can build on is doable. Saying I am going to move my body at least once this week for 15 minutes is doable. Maybe that means doing a walk in the neighborhood, maybe that means walking in place, or maybe laying on the floor with the babies and doing some stretches. Then, you add-on to that. The next week make it twice a week, the next week make it twice a week for 20 minutes. If you do more than what you set out to do that’s great. If you complete your actual simple goal then you feel accomplished and good about yourself instead of like a failure when the bar is set too high.
Once you have identified one small goal write it down. Give yourself a big smiley face or a checkmark when you accomplish it. I have included a sheet that I use to track my goals, emotions, and gratitude. Use it if you find it helpful, if not find some other way to track your day.
So, think about the 15 things on your New Year’s resolution list and pick one to start with. Don’t worry about the rest you will get to them, you have an entire year to build up to them. When we add things gradually to our lives, they become a part of our lives. When we throw a bunch of things in it creates chaos and we are just trying to survive and push through.
While you are setting a goal set an intention as well. Intentions are different than goals. They are the mindset and inner voice to help us reach our goals. They assist in creating the version of ourselves that we would like to see. The intention for the above goal would be I want to feel stronger in my body so I will move it once a week for 15 minutes. Say this to yourself throughout the day.
So, bring on 2022 with a bang and identify one small goal that you can build on throughout the year. What is your intention that you can focus on and use as a daily mantra?
Happy New Year mamas! I pray that this year brings you all the love and joy that your heart desires, and maybe a little peace and quiet from all the multiples you have in your household.
Hi, I’m Amy Simpson and I have twin eight-year-old girls. I live with my husband, the girls, our schnauzer “Lizzy”, and Aussiedoodle “Donahue” in west Fort Worth. I have been a member of FWMOM since I was 18 weeks pregnant. This group has provided support and love from the very beginning.
As a family we enjoy traveling, Mexican Food, dance parties, and spending time with family and friends. We try to do as much outside as we can to keep the girls busy so if you see our backyard its packed with lots of fun things to do. I was a baker in my previous life, so we love to bake and cook, and then share with our neighbors to get the yummy things out of the house. The girls are in 2nd grade and they love to learn and have fun.
I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and I have a private practice in Fort Worth where I work primarily with women. I provide mental health counseling in areas of anxiety, depression, loss, grief, motherhood, and self-care. My journey to have the girls was a long one that had many ups and downs. Once I had them my postpartum was pretty severe for several months. With a traumatic birth, a NICU stay and two kiddos that had colic, acid reflux and slept very little for the first eleven months it was a rough time. Once I could catch my breath, I opened my practice over seven years ago to help women who are struggling with all things getting pregnant, staying pregnant, and transitioning into motherhood. Motherhood is So, so, so very hard at times and I feel like people do not prepare you for it. Especially being the mother to multiples there are things that people just do not understand unless you have multiples. I feel like my journey to becoming a mother is and was a blessing so that I can love women where they are and provide some understanding and support through difficult times. For myself and with all of my clients I focus on self-care. Self-care is so very important to your mind, body and soul and its usually the first thing to go when life gets hard.
The mothers of multiples group has been a place where I have met some of my best friends that are real, honest, caring, loving and supportive. I cannot imagine doing life without them. I will admit when I was struggling with my postpartum, I thought about leaving the group because I could not seem to get this “mothering of multiples” thing down. It appeared that everyone else had it together with sound mind and body while I felt like I was struggling to get out the door without puke in my hair and on my clothes. The love and support of the women in the group kept pulling me back in for which I am so grateful for.
So, use this group to get you through life, to support, and love one another through the good and the bad. Create your support system, find your friends, reach out to others that need a helping hand or a word of encouragement. Have play dates, have mommy dates, have couples’ dates create your tribe because raising multiples is such a blessing but it gets crazy at times and you need your tribe to get you through. If you need a helping hand reach out my office cell is 817-266-1159 email is firstname.lastname@example.org and you can check out my website at amysimpsonlcsw.com.
Here’s to 2022 find your tribe, create time for you and focus on self-care.
I’m often asked “how are you so close with your teens/adult children?” or “your family is so tight-knit. How do you do that?”, or “my kids won’t talk to me, how do you get your kids to talk to you?”
I never thought about these questions, until I was asked the first time. I always felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants most days, and barely getting by. Sometimes I was getting through the days minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. There were days from the time my children were born to when they were teens, where I wasn’t sure if I remembered to brush my teeth. Who can relate? Motherhood is definitely, not for the faint of heart and there isn’t a handbook for each situation. I have made my share of mistakes, but I know I did something well too. I’m very proud, and happy with how my “3 Lil M's” communicate with us still! I would cry if they didn’t.
Most of you know me, but for those who don’t, I have a singleton son, Mark II (22), and Identical/Mirror/Mo-Mo twin girls, Martha & Melissa (21). Mark is a Senior at Dallas Baptist University (DBU) studying Psychology. Martha is 1 year from graduating from Penn Foster Veterinary Tech online school. And Melissa graduated from Tarrant County College with a Certificate in Photography. We are a retired military family, which comes with so many different factors our family has faced over the years. We have lived through deployments (BK-Before Kids), weeks, and months of TDY (Temporary Duty out of town). Most of the time these happened at the most inopportune moments. For example, hubby was on TDY for 2 weeks out of state. THAT is when 3 Lil M's had lice! OMG! Let me tell you, that was crazy to take care of by myself with 3 kids, 3 cats, a 2-story home, and a Suburban to clean. As if that wasn’t enough, lice were found 2 DAYS BEFORE PK and K school pictures! I tried to complete all tasks in 2 days and I did, but I did not anticipate what that lice shampoo would do to my bebe’s hair! It stuck straight up, and someone suggested, “Hey, you can do retakes”. Well Hallelujah! Why didn’t I think of that? I also was so vigilant with the lice spray for furniture, that all 3 Lil M's woke up wheezing.
All of the changes – schools, homes, workplaces, friends, etc. I navigated those relationships just like my 3 Lil M's. We had people in other places refuse to friend us BECAUSE we are a military family. They (adults and children) would say “we don’t want to be friends with you, because you’ll be leaving anyway”. It was hard for me, but how do you tell your 6, 5, 5-year-olds how to cope? We became close-knit, because, in some places, all we had was each other. However, we also had people in those same places, that took us in and treated us like their own family. We and our children learned life lessons often in our moving. It’s what makes us who we are as a family. We instilled in our children to be Christ-like, to help others, and to love others anyway. We taught them being a family is important, and to bring others in to be part of our family too. It wasn’t until a few years ago they found out their “Uncle Chris & Aunt Janet” are no relation to them by blood, but they’re family because we choose to be. We weren’t always able to go “home” for the holidays. We have made new traditions, and one was to invite a family in need over for our Thanksgiving dinner. My 3 Lil M's grew up making room at our table for others and giving to others. When they grow out of their clothes, or they don’t like something (even now at their age) they bring them to me and say, “Mom we need to give these to someone”. All of that to tell you raising my children has been trial and error, as well as, from what we learned from our own difficult childhoods, this is how we didn’t want to raise our children.
What works for our family may not work for everyone else’s families, and that’s ok. The bottom line is to use what works for you, and I hope something here helps you in some small way. We began when our children were little, but getting along with them can begin at any age. We respected them, didn’t talk down to them, bent down to talk to them on their level, praised them, disciplined them, and gave them a chance to explain their feelings-something both of our parents never gave us a chance to do. We have always used the “Golden Rule” in our home with just my husband and me (BK), and after we had children. We live by if you don’t like it being done to you, don’t do it to someone else. Some of the things we did:
*Baby to Kindergarten: Played with them, read to them, talked to them, a lot of time was spent revolving around them, took them to the park and to Multiple MOMS events, which is probably the same as most of you.
*Elementary Years: (1) show them you care – attend their performances, add little notes to their lunch box or school bag, (2) Weekly Game nights – we decided to be fair, they each picked the game they wanted to play, and SOMEONE ALWAYS picked Clue! Never fail. We played all 3 games and played them in the short version to get them all in that night. There were times we just hung out with them watching movies, playing Mario Kart, and playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band. Rock Band was more fun because we had four instruments- Mark II-usually played guitar or drums, Martha-guitar, Melissa- drums and guitar, Mark Sr – usually sang and played guitar. I opted for videoing and picture taking of them playing and singing. At times, Mark and I would swap out, and I played bass guitar and drums. Those are the memories the kids remember, and not much of the things we bought them.
*Junior High & High School: (1) show them you care- attend their performances, games, activities. Whatever it is they like to do, be there for them. This is a deal-breaker for children knowing their parents care about and are proud of them. (2) leave them notes in their lunch box and school bags. (3) Be Present! They know when you’re not engaged in what they’re doing. (4) Treat them like they’re important. This can be done by including them in conversations. Let them be a part of decision-making, and show them the process you go through. (3) Game nights were once a month, instead of once a week, due to activities schedules. Same procedures were done, with each of them picking the game they wanted to play, and we played all 3 games in one night. I posted notes on their doors for Valentine’s telling them what they were good at, for example - “You are awesome”, “You love animals”, “you are sweet”, “you are a great ____ (Clarinet, Trumpet, or French Horn) Player”, “you are kind”, “you are smart”. Lots of positive affirmations are a great way to build their self-esteem, and another way to let them know you love them.
I’ve always loved, Jackie Kennedy Onassis. I read one of her quotes to a reporter when asked about her duties now that she’s the 1st Lady:
“If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much”. ~Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
If you ask your child “yes or no” questions, you will get one word and yes or no answers.
A helpful list to show how things sound when said, changing negative response to positive response.
Conversation starters – remember to choose the MOMENT to talk to your children. A lot of times, car rides to school or practices were a good time to get my 3 Lil M's to chat with me. The next important thing is to LISTEN – don’t interrupt while they talk. Check their MOOD. If they had a hard day, or are tired, don’t try to start a conversation. No LECTURES-that’s the last thing to get your children to talk to you. And lastly, tell your own stories about your childhood. Your children will moan, and act like they’re not interested, but they enjoy hearing about your stories too.
Asking the right questions is key to getting your teens to talk to you. Asking them, “How was your day”? will usually get a “fine”. Here are some examples to get more than a one-word response:
1. What one thing did you learn today?
2. What subject is your favorite?
3. Is bullying a problem at school?
4. What is on your current playlist that you love? And do you want to play it for me?
5. Are you reading anything you really like?
6. Is there a teacher that helps you the most?
7. What was the hardest thing you had to deal with today?
8. What is everyone talking about at school?
9. What class or subject do you wish you could take?
10. Was today boring? Or did anything exciting happen?
*I’ll never forget when I asked 3 Lil M's this one day after we had just moved to a new place. All 3 began talking at once, about a crazy thing that happened at lunch. They said 2 people began fighting in the lunchroom, and the principal and a teacher threw them against the wall to stop the fight. I was a little shocked but only listened until they were done. I tried not to judge or ask them questions that made them feel they shouldn’t have told me. I left it as an experience and hoped it didn’t happen again.
I’ve also found it they’re not talkative, something is usually wrong. I try to wait for them to tell me, but if it goes on too long, I try to ask a leading question. For example, “can I help you figure something out?”, “how’s ___(insert their best friend’s name here) doing, or are y'all getting together”? I just try to find something to ask that gets their attention, and usually, the flood gates open. Then I realize “oh Lord, I’ve done it now” because I didn’t have an hour to hear the story. Ha!
Watching my 3 Lil M's grow up has been fun, tiring, adventurous, and something I miss. The time has flown by for me, and I tried to enjoy every single minute I could with them. In the end, time is the most valuable thing you have to give.
“No one tells you the hardest part of motherhood is when your kids grow up”. ~Kelly’s Treehouse
Melissa Miller is a retired military wife of 33 years. They have 3 adult children - Mark (22) & ID/Mirror/MoMo twins Martha & Melissa (21). She is a Christian, Jesus loving, Southern, Cajun girl from Louisiana. She loves to craft, scrapbook, read, hand sew, and when she was younger she played women's and co-ed softball, fast and slow pitch. She cherishes her family time the most.
School has been in session for several weeks now, but it’s not too late to equip your child’s teachers to help your child have the best year ever. Unless a teacher is certified in special education, most have little to no training in how to help students with even the most common learning challenges. You have spent many hours learning everything you can about your child’s diagnosis, treatments, and accommodations so that your child will have every opportunity to succeed. No one understands your child’s diagnosis and accommodations better than you and your child, and most importantly you know what makes your kid the special person they are more than anyone. You probably spend a lot of time helping your child so they can do their best to leverage their strengths to overcome their challenges. This makes you uniquely qualified to help their teachers. You can prepare their teachers for your children's unique sets of strengths and challenges. Don't assume that last year's teacher, their school records, or even an IEP, 504 plan, or Student Learning Plan has prepared your child's teacher(s) for how they learn best. This is especially important if your child has ADHD or a learning challenge.
How you do this will depend on the age of your child and their unique needs. What we found works for our family is to reach out to teachers as early as possible to make sure they have what they need.
With younger children, as soon as you know who their teacher will be, reach out to them. Share first your enthusiasm for the new school year. Share your child's passions, things that bring them joy and their strengths as a learner, and how the teacher may embrace them. Then share your child's challenges, being as specific as possible. Include their accommodations and how to best implement those accommodations with your child. Promise to be an open and active part of the teaching team with the teacher. Make sure to include a copy of your child's learning plan. These often take a while to get to teachers after school starts.
With teens, your teen should share this info themselves with their teachers. I have my teens draft an email and share it with me. We really focus on their strengths. They need to write or type those strengths themselves to especially remind themselves they have more strengths than challenges. Having them think through their challenges, accommodations, and how best their teachers can support them gives them agency over something that frustrates the heck out of them. It also reminds them that their teachers are there to help and we are all on the same team.
I follow up their email with one of my own. I give some background on how far my kids have grown and the amount of effort it takes for them to function at the level that they do. I also include some more information about how ADHD affects Executive Function. I ask to be kept in the loop early and often if my kid is struggling, thanking them in advance for being a partner in helping my kid not only learn their content area but to learn skills to increase Executive Function. I check in periodically, and never hesitate to share new research on Executive Function and ADHD or any new strategies we are trying including changes with medications. We've had so much positive feedback with this approach and I hope that you do as well.
Below is an article I found from ADDitude magazine that has some other helpful suggestions for talking with teachers about ADHD. https://tinyurl.com/2fpkbdey
Linda Kennedy M.S. – TLC’s Dallas Fort Worth area Associate, is the mother of 17 year old twins, Shane and Savannah, and wife of 26 years to Shane, a physician. A former high school and college level science teacher with a masters in Biology, Linda is a busy stay at home mom and community volunteer. After nearly ten years of marriage, Linda and Shane welcomed their twins following IVF and a high risk pregnancy that ended on bedrest and an early delivery at 31 weeks and long NICU stay. A long time member of FWMoM, Linda has served in many capacities including as Programs director and President, where she developed a program and curriculum for expectant moms of multiples and parenting infants and toddlers. This came out of her own experience, and what she learned from the other moms in the FWMoM community. Her favorite thing to tell expectant parents is find your multiples parents group, to help you figure out how to care for multiple babies at once because you are going to be too tired at first to figure it all out. She continues to be an active supporter of moms of multiples finding their own parenting style, becoming confident making choices for their children that bring joy and wellbeing to themselves and their family. You can reach Linda at email@example.com for more information about our Dallas Fort Worth services.
Reviews are great. They help us make decisions on things as small as which toothpaste will leave us the most "minty fresh" or as large as where to go and stay for one of the biggest events in our lives. We put our trust in people we don’t even know because hey, they’ve tried it (toothpaste, restaurant, resort, etc.), right, so they know best? Right? We benefit from their supposedly-seasoned knowledge and should put our faith in their review.
Or should we?
A new study conducted by the University of Baltimore’s economist Professor Roberto Cavazos claims that counterfeit content will influence an astonishing $21 billion in travel bookings worldwide this year. Cavazos defined fake online reviews as any review that isn’t a consumer’s honest and impartial opinion and does not reflect a genuine experience of a product, service, or business. Fashion, beauty, entertainment, housewares, and electronics top the list for most-faked reviews. Travel ranks sixth.
$21 billion in travel bookings based on fake, or significantly biased, reviews!
As a luxury travel advisor who takes immense pride in what I and my team do, this number is appalling! As is where the counterfeit content appears. This particular study referenced above focused on the most influential sites (that claim to contain honest and unbiased reviews), like Yelp, Trust Pilot, TripAdvisor, etc. Roughly 4% of reviews are fake, according to the study, with Yelp having an incredible 8% (this means that out of every one hundred reviews you read on Yelp, eight are not real).
But it’s not just the “user-generated” sites. It’s also bloggers and influencers. Individuals are thought of as legitimate, trustworthy sources who are making millions every year from biased content and bogus write-ups. $100 or so out the window for a lackluster high-review-based meal is one thing. $10,000 spent for a resort vacation based on bogus reviews is very serious money.
The fake reviews are even prevalent, though, within our own industry. Travel agents new to the biz (or even established ones) trying to get more clients may hype a restaurant, resort, or destination they haven’t experienced, or they’ll get their friends and families to post reviews about a vacation or their services, without having experienced either.
Or there may be a hotel that looks amazing online, but when you arrive, you discover those spectacular photos were what it may have looked like a few years ago, and it is now in far from tip-top condition.
And finally, some reviews are real and not meant to be misleading, but are. For example, someone who just went on their honeymoon may tout “the best resort ever,” and it might have been for a honeymoon, but not as great for a family trip with teenagers and toddlers.
So what does all this mean for you?
When planning a luxury trip, you need to work with an experienced team—one who has either been to the resorts and restaurants they’re recommending (or who have trusted affiliates they absolutely depend on) and can truly vouch for your experience, one who can not only help with meal reservations but also create a complete itinerary truly suited to your needs and wants, and one who can help make sure you are spending your money wisely.
In just this summer alone, The Shameless Tourist’s team of four has visited more than 45 different properties covering nine states, eight countries, and three continents, including places like Walt Disney World, St. Martin, Boston, Africa, Slovenia, Croatia, Paris and more.
This summer alone.
Our recommendations may not be the most popular choice according to the reviews. It may not even be something on your radar (either resort or destination-wise). But you can trust us that it will be the best recommendation for your particular set of circumstances based on places we have actually experienced (and those are vast, as you can see from our example above).
1. Thumbs down on a big thumbs-up-reviewed resort in Costa Rica
A particular resort in Costa Rica has great reviews everywhere online. However, their customer service is terrible. Trying to plan activities with their concierge was frustrating and time-consuming. We primarily booked the resort for surfing. When we arrived, they had forgotten to set up our surfing lessons. We also booked an expensive fishing charter; however, they ended up setting it up as a snorkeling trip. In addition to all the wasted time, we were also significantly overcharged, for which we never received a response after several attempts.
2. Zack and Kelly could have honeymooned at this New England Inn
We visited a Luxury affiliated country inn in New England that had beautiful photos on its website. When we arrived, we were greeted with a roof that needed to be redone, peeling paint, and an overall 80s feel (in that it hadn’t been refreshed or revamped since Saved by the Bell’s heydays). However, we found a hotel right next door that was much nicer but that wasn’t really on the radar. It didn’t have a pool like the original one, but it was an eminently better property.
3. Exceptional family value in Destin
Next is a family resort in Destin that again has great reviews online. I agree with those, and I would even recommend it further. It is an exceptionally good value for what it is, as you get Virtuoso amenities (hooray for room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, and more!) including a lazy river, splash pad, zero-entry pool, and more, for usually less than $500 per night. Additionally, it is steps away from one of the prettiest beaches in Florida. And while I’m not completely obsessed with Destin as a Florida destination (there are much prettier towns, in my opinion), it is a very nice family resort (with beach service!) at a great value.
4. Bloggers don’t necessarily know St. Barth
This next example is a really good one in terms of relevance to this article. This St. Barth’s resort has tons of bloggers and influencers repping and promoting it, but the reviews and info about it aren’t entirely truthful. While it does have cute rooms, it has issues that should be considered before booking. The onsite restaurant was awful and the service was terrible. The beach restaurant was also not good. Additionally, the hotel itself is not beachfront. In our opinion, there are other, better choices in St. Barths.
And we can say that because we have been there and experienced all aspects of that property, as well as countless others, all over the world.
At The Shameless Tourist, we believe your hard-earned money is important. We believe that if you are spending thousands on a vacation, then it should be well worth it. As for our credentials, The Shameless Tourist is an Independent Affiliate of Avenue Two Travel, one of the most well-respected travel agencies in the luxury travel sphere, and we are a top producer and preferred partner with most of the world’s best hotels and resorts, tour operators, and cruise lines. We have personal contacts around the travel world, many of whom we call friends. In addition to our contacts, we also collectively spend hundreds of days each year attending webinars, reading news, listening to podcasts, and personally touring or experiencing dozens and dozens of the properties we most often recommend. Our clients are VIPs at our preferred partner hotels and receive all of the “in the know” knowledge of practically any destination they choose.
You can rest assured, there are no bogus recommendations from our team, as our own reviews will attest (see what we did there ).
I hope you enjoy it!
Kaleigh Kirkpatrick, CTA, is the Founder and owner of The Shameless Tourist. For as long as she can remember, Travel has always been an integral part of her life. Kaleigh truly loves helping individuals, couples, groups, and families plan their travel. Sharing her tips, tricks, money saving tactics, and reviews of destinations around the world, she is confident that she can plan a superb vacation for YOU! For more information, or to book your upcoming trip please contact her at 817.929.0446 or visit her at www.theshamelesstourist.com
So many families I've worked with recently are trying to figure this parenting thing out all while balancing their full-time jobs with both spouses now working from home. I know first-hand how difficult it can be to navigate keeping up a household while dad is unexpectedly working out of his closet to find some quiet to take a call. For many of us, trying to stay afloat financially has been a struggle too because in some way or another, Covid has taken a toll on all of us. All of these situations are so, so hard. Working, managing finances, worrying about health, and raising children is already difficult, but add being isolated to the home with the same few people for a big portion of the last 18 months is more like pull-your-hair-out hard!
Now that things are starting to open back up, we’re facing all the challenges of reintegrating back into society, and unfortunately, we likely won’t see all the long-term effects for quite some time. I’m seeing it daily - both with my clients and with the students in the classroom where I teach.
Many born over the last 18 months have never really left the house to go on simple errands like the grocery store, let around being able to freely play around with other children! Separation anxiety for infants and toddlers seems to be at an all-time high, as little ones have really never known anyone other than mom or dad as caregivers. In toddlers, challenging behaviors have been a hot topic, and I’m seeing a lot more fear and anxiety in a lot of my adolescent clients in the aftermath of this pandemic. The inconsistency in everyone’s routines due to the disruptions that occur with illnesses, exposures, subsequent quarantines, closures, and you name it clearly affect our day-to-day lives.
It's inarguable that the COVID-19 crisis has taken a lot out of us, but it doesn’t have to take your kiddos' sleep too! Whether your children are babies, toddlers, school-aged, or adolescents, here are my top tips for maintaining great sleep (even in, or after a pandemic)!
Although many of us wish parenting had an explicit manual, our children don’t come with step-by-step directions, which is why it’s SO important to find your village! Finding your village these days can be an exhausting task, but it is worth the effort. I’m so thankful for the FWMOM community because even virtually, they have always shown up! We can truly encourage one another and live life together. And it's okay to state the obvious too: multiples are HARD, y’all! Find your village, support them, love them well, and let them love on you too!
Melina Moses is a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant with Sleep Wise Consulting. She currently lives in Oklahoma City with her husband Wes, twins McKenzie and Jaxon, and her daughter Madelyn. To schedule a consulation with Melina, please visit https://www.sleepwiseconsulting.com/consultants/melina-moses/ or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
#findingjoy #motherhoodjourney #motherhood #ittakesavillage
With seasons changing from summer to fall we get a break from the heat, pumpkin spice everything and the dreaded time change. For many of us “Fall Forward” means one more blissful hour of sleep. However, for children the time change can lead to a stressful change in sleep quality. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be! With a few tips, you can fall forward like a champ and avoid any unnecessary stress.
As tempting as it may be to keep your kiddos up an extra hour the night before daylight savings, don’t do it. Unfortunately, the extra hour awake will not equate to an extra hour of sleep in the morning. Put your child to bed on time the night before the change. Let them sleep till their scheduled wake up time- they may be up before due to the time change, but let them stay in their crib/bed as close to their wake time as possible. This applies to feeding too, keeping your baby on schedule is the best way to deal with daylight savings.
Throughout the day keep up with the new time. Take advantage of the cool weather, play outside, go on walks or to the park. Your child may start to feel the time change before their nap, but hold out as best you can. Being consistent is important, keep up with regular routines and utilize tools such as black out curtains and sound machines. After about three to five days of adjusting to these changes, you and your little one will be back on track.
Melissa O'Neill is a registered nurse who specialized in NICU and Labor & Delivery for over twelve years. With three kids of her own, she is a wonderful resource for all new parents. After the birth of her first child, she became increasingly interested in studies on the sleep habits of newborns, and saw a need for quality in-home newborn nursing care and education for new parents in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Melissa founded Newborn Nightingales in 2012 and is committed to helping parents establish a nurturing, caring and calm environment. Melissa was recently elected to the board for the Mother’s Milk Bank of North Texas. In addition, she was a featured speaker for the Bump, Baby & Beyond event in Dallas in 2014 and The Dallas Mom’s Blog Bloom event in 2016.
If you are interested in getting some help with night-time sleep care, please reach out to Newborn Nightingales through https://newbornnightingales.com/contact-us/
Before I had my children, I was a very career driven person. I worked in Minor League Baseball right out college for seven years and now work in college athletics. Working in sports requires a huge time commitment, including 12-14 hour work days multiple days a week. I absolutely loved my career and it’s who I was; it was my whole identity.
After I had my girls, my whole world changed. I know it sounds so cliché, but I really felt like I gained SO much but also lost so much of myself when I had them. It doesn’t help that I had them a month after the world shutdown due to the pandemic, so we were forced to stay home and away from anyone/anything that could have given me a sense of normalcy.
I was even worried to have my family come help (they live in Georgia) because of the unknown of COVID at the time and what it could do to my newborn daughters. After three weeks of paternity leave, my husband returned to work and I was home alone with the girls. Just the thought of that terrified me. I remember being so jealous that he got to leave the house and go to work and socialize with other people.
I caved and called in backup and my Mom came to help for a month or so. I currently work in college athletics, so with the pandemic and all sports being cancelled, I was able to work from home starting just 6 weeks after giving birth. I was so excited to get back to working and feeling like myself, but I quickly realized that I’m not who I used to be. I started to feel so lost and overwhelmed.
While I was ready to get back to work, I also had two newborns to take care of at the same time. I had to be a Mom and an employee, and I had no clue how to balance the two. Of course, I did what all of us MoM’s do and I made it work. I have learned that my career now takes a backseat to my family because I am a Mom first and an employee second. It sounds crazy, but it has taken me a while to come to terms with the fact that my job isn’t the most important thing in my life anymore. Before I became a Mom, I was ALWAYS working. I would feel guilty if there was a game going on and I wasn’t there with my coworkers; now I feel guilty when I’m at work and not at home with my children and husband.
In the last 16 months since having my girls, I have found a good balance of the “old me” and the “new me.” I leave for work in the morning before they get up, get to work early, and leave work early so I can have more of the afternoon to spend with them. I still work a couple nights a week when we are having games, but my husband brings the girls to my work to see me for a couple of hours if it’s on the weekends. I know it’s not perfect and it probably won’t work forever, but for now, it allows me to continue to do both things that I love; be a Mom and continue to have my career that I am so passionate about.
I know it’s hard to be a Mom, whether you work or stay home, and we lose ourselves because we care so much about our family that we forget what used to make us happy and make us who we are. I encourage you to try to find the balance and continue to do what makes you, YOU!
Courtnie Ortiz works as an Athletic Marketing Coordinator at The University of Texas at Dallas. She lives in Hurst, Texas with her husband Nathan and twin daughters, Faith and Gracie (1.5)
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.