Hey y'all, and Happy August! I miss adventure. I miss the anticipation of our next big trip. If you do as well, don't miss this interview with Fort Worth Mothers of Multiples’ Silver Sponsor, Whitney Crawford of The Vacationeer.
Whitney is authentic, hard working, and knowledgeable - which are all important attributes I want in my travel agent. It’s no secret that travel agents are always learning and exploring and Whitney is no exception. In fact, she just returned from experiencing a little Disney magic with her family recently. If you are ready to plan a family trip to a Disney destination or really plan a trip anywhere, read along to brush up on COVID-19 travel need-to-knows, and learn some fun tips along the way. The members of FWMoM are absolutely blessed to have so many hard-working, loyal, and passionate sponsors (shout out to you Whitney), so let's get going.
1. Tell us a little about yourself, Whitney. Hi, everyone! I have a 4 year old daughter and twin boys that just turned two years old. My husband and I have been together for nine years and married for six years. For those MoMs who know me well, I stay very busy (just the way I like it) between being a mom, wife, entrepreneur, and training for my first Disney Princess Marathon challenge. I have been planning travel for friends and family since I can remember and it is truly my passion. I love to help others plan their vacation of a lifetime or simply a small weekend getaway.
2. Whitney, what trip is on your bucket list? Oh wow—bucket list trip, hmmmm, I would say Fiji or Greece...what the heck, let’s go with both! My husband’s family is Greek, so visiting Greece is definitely somewhere in my future. As for Fiji, that is a place my husband and I both have dreamed about visiting. We wanted to visit for our honeymoon but it didn’t work out at that time.
3. What has been your favorite trip to help a family/couple plan? Hands down DISNEY WORLD! Disney World is my happy place, and if my husband would allow it, we would spend every vacation there. Disney World has many parts and pieces that go into planning so it can be very overwhelming for those who are not 100% familiar with that type of vacation. I love being able to help families experience everything Disney has to offer. For me, it doesn’t matter if it is a family’s first visit or their 100th visit; every Disney vacation is different and magical.
4. How did you hear about FWMoM? I found out about them from a Facebook group; likely through Jenna B.
5. Can you spill the beans on best kept secret trips you love to help people plan? I would say any all-inclusive resorts. These are my family’s favorite vacations, because we pay for everything upfront, so you don’t have to do anything but relax and enjoy your vacation. An all-inclusive would be my husband’s pick for every vacation. I also work with many honeymooners and big anniversaries, and I love being able to help them plan a romantic and relaxing beach getaway.
6. Please share your recent wins in the travel industry. COVID-19 hit us very hard and will take a long time for the travel industry to recover from, but people are still traveling and things are beginning to look up. A positive takeaway COVID-19 brought is that people have begun to understand the importance of utilizing a travel agent for vacation. I spent (and am still spending) countless hours on hold with different vendors getting refunds or rescheduling vacations for all of my clients. Most people don’t realize that we only get paid by the vendor after travel is completed, so vacations that agents worked on for months and were canceled, we are not paid for. Our industry is an amazing one but there is a lot of work that goes into planning vacations.
7. What are challenges COVID presented to you this year, and how can the members of FWMoM help? The biggest challenge is that people are not traveling like they were. The best way to help is to use an agent to book your travel. Even if just a couple of days at a hotel, we can book all of that for you. My agency has a fundraising opportunity for FWMoM-- anyone who mentions FWMoM when booking (they do not have to be a member), my agency gives 25% of the commission back to FWMOM (after travel is complete). So if you stay in Dallas for two nights and spend $400, then 25% of the commission will be sent directly to FWMoM. It is a very easy way to give back to such a great organization!
8. Disney World has reopened - any recommendations on making plans to book a trip there with The Vacationeer? Disney World has officially been open for a little over a month now, and I just returned from a (birthday) trip for myself. It was wonderful being back “home” and getting to experience the “new” Disney World firsthand. I learned so much that I am thankful I can pass on to my clients who are getting ready to start traveling again very soon. I have been visiting Walt Disney World since I was fifteen (with a 6 month stint as a college program cast member) and have been back every chance I could get. This was the first time I have visited with smaller crowds and it felt like I had the parks to myself. I can honestly say, this will probably not be something we will ever have the chance to experience again.
If you have been to Walt Disney World and are familiar with the attractions then I would recommend you go now, while these crowds are so little (literally walk on to rides all day), however, I would not recommend sending a family for the first time. There is still so much that is not present (although the magic is very much alive, just different), I would be afraid they might feel they really miss out (lots of stores still closed, dining still closed and even snack carts closed). This is especially true for those families who want to make this their once-in-a-lifetime vacation. First timers, if you are ready to plan your Disney vacation, please reach out to me as I will share all of the knowledge I gained to help you absolutely LOVE your vacation!
One thing is for sure, if you are thinking that a Disney vacation is in your future, I highly recommend getting your vacation on the books (or at least starting the planning process). The great thing about current Disney vacation packages is that they only require a $200 deposit (refundable if you choose to cancel before 30 days of travel), you can make payments on your balance, and should you need to reschedule (no matter the reason), there are no penalties (as long as your vacation is not paid in full and you are outside the 30 days of travel window).
Fort Worth MoMs, what questions do you have for Whitney? Leave a comment or question below and share your opinion! I can't wait to hear from you.
Wendy Lee, mother of three boys and one spunky daughter, including twins, Aspen and Jax, met her husband of 13 years through their black lab and German Shepard while apartment living. She has worked in the nonprofit arena for over 21 years raising awareness and funds for various organizations and currently serves as the Major Gifts Officer for Girl Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains. Wendy loves Sour Patch kids, pumpkin spice coffee, hiking in the Colorado mountains, the Grateful Dead, and a good margarita.
2020 has been EXTRA. Kobe. Australia wildfires. Harvey Weinstein convicted. Covid pandemic. George Floyd. Protests. Riots. Murder hornets. Elections. Tiger King... and it’s just September! These things can make life feel overwhelming. Oh yeah, distance learning. Extra.
But we know extra, right MOMs?
Having a bunch of babies at once is extra. Multiples feeding schedules are extra. Getting to the grocery store with the entire litter in tow is extra. Paying double dance class, music lessons, sports tuition is extra.
Everything we do appears to be extra to the outside world.
Extra is our life. Quite frankly most of us wouldn’t have it any other way! However, when the Extra in the outside world invades our inner world, they have a compounding effect that can be overwhelming.
As I’ve thought about what being EXTRA actually means for a group of women with multiples, all I could see was greatness. Extraordinary is not an exaggeration for mothers of multiples. Extraordinary is defined as follows: beyond what is usual, ordinary, regular, or established; exceptional in character; to the amount, extent, degree that is noteworthy and remarkable. In my book, (and to anyone who witnesses you), you are extraordinary! You have received these babies and welcomed them into your family without missing a beat. Yep, it’s extra and busy but you manage and grow and excel. Extraordinary mothers, wives, women you are...never forget it.
This year I want to do a dive into what this truly means. If life is going to be EXTRA (thanks 2020), I want it to be filled with the right kind of extra! We will explore what it means for us in our current seasons of life to be filled to overflow with goodness, peace, joy, tranquility, grace, favor, energy, excitement, optimism, and faith. So let’s flip EXTRA on its head!
What if we had EXTRA peace instead of EXTRA turmoil?
What if we had EXTRA joy to share, instead of EXTRA stress?
What if we had EXTRA grace, instead of EXTRA drama?
What if we had EXTRA wisdom instead of EXTRA information?
We can live the kind of life that produces the right kind of extra. Extraordinary lives require extraordinary choices. Each month we will do a deep dive into how to push out the world’s EXTRA and build on the right kind of EXTRA in our families. We will look at what it means to truly flourish as a family, as mothers, as women, as an organization of extraordinary women!
This is my prayer for you, EXTRAORDINARY women:
“The Lord bless you and watch, guard, and keep you; The Lord make His face to shine upon and enlighten you and be gracious (kind, merciful, and giving favor) to you; The lord lift up His approving countenance upon you and give you peace (tranquility of heart and life continually).” -Numbers 6:24-26
“Everything we could ever need for life and godliness has already been deposited in us and by His divine power. For all this was lavished upon us through the rich experience of knowing him who has called us by name and invited us to come to him through a glorious manifestation of his goodness.” - 2 Peter 1:3
Tonya Flowers is a mother to Lucas, and twins Wyatt and Timothy. She is a wife, nurse, minister and curretly serves FWMOM as our Chaplain.
Best Self-care Products for Fellow Working Moms of Multiples, Review from Jess! (AKA Some of my favorite things EVER!)
If it has been a hot minute since you last had a self-care day, or even just incorporated a tiny (2 minute) daily habit to keep your mama stress at bay, it's okay! I wanted to share my favorite self-care/beauty/home products with you fellow mamas of multiples so I rounded up a small list. If you have any questions or need more info on something you see you're interested in, feel free to PM me, text me, or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
PS: These are not professional photos, these are simply from my iPhone to yours. ;)
#1 Wicker baskets are a MUST at my house. Not only do they make things feel cozy, but I keep toys, towels, blankets, sheets, pillows, you name it…in baskets. I have a large basket at the bottom of the stairs that collects the kids’ toys that somehow make their way downstairs and every single night I have the kids pick up the toys and place them in the basket for me to carry up and dump into their playroom baskets. This allows for my husband and me to feel like the house is clean from 8:30pm-morning HA!!
#2 Wine... DUH! This is my favorite vineyard in Fredericksburg and they offer monthly or bi-monthly boxes delivered right to your door! You can cancel your membership at any time.
#3 Hand-knitted pouf (back to the cozy thing I said about the baskets), I love my pouf. I use it all the time to put my feet on while on the couch, prop my feet on while on a work call at my desk, my kids constantly use it as a seat, and it just screams, “cozy” in my living room. It's super easy to spot clean if needed. Before I actually owned this, I didn't know why the heck people bought these, they don't really serve a purpose.... so I thought.
#4 Live plants in the house. I don't have a green thumb so snake plants and any succulent are a safe bet!!
#5 Candles are my favorite thing in this world. I am obsessed with a yummy smelling house, and candles can get SUPER expensive if you’re always wanting one lit. I work with one at my desk as well to get my brain to tune out and focus on my task at hand with wedding planning. This smell is incredible. I have gifted this to so many people and they all ask me where they can buy more. (Amazon!)
#6 I have an Alexa in almost every single room in our house. I know there are differing opinions on this for privacy reasons, but I am very PRO Alexa. Music is statistically proven to lower your stress level and positively affect your mood.. So next time you are doing the dishes, you can play the new Frozen soundtrack, (ha!) or whatever!
#7 I have tried ALL THE THINGS for stress acne and this product from CVS or Walgreens is a game-changer.
#8 Costco does it again!! The smell of this giant $8 bottle is like a little vacation to the beach in your shower. Period.
#9 Turkish towels make me feel like I am on vacation, so I have a ton of different colors/patterns in each bathroom in the house. SUPER SOFT!
#10 Epsom Salt Bath in Lavender scent is the perfect way to end a day where you just need a minute to yourself. (Candles are also always a good idea.)
#11 I am sure everyone and their mother knows about the WET BRUSH, but if, for some reason you do not, run to your closest Ulta and get you one!
#12 These $2 hair clips are super easy to throw into your bun and make it look like you spent 20 minutes on your hair. I have gotten a TON of compliments on these hair clips and they’re dirt cheap on Amazon and I have yet to break one. If you like hair accessories, this is a favorite of mine!
#13 Hair scrunchie with the cutest bow, my daughter and I both LOVE these (27 year age gap).
#14 I like to leave my dining room table set and ready to go at all times as if I could host a dinner party with a 5-minute warning. Every time I walk by the dining room it makes me feel relaxed and also it's prettier than an empty table in my opinion. Am I the only one?
I hope you found a few new favorites to try or were inspired to adopt a new habit to lower your stress level and make yourself happy!
Jessica Scott Haner is a twin herself and a boy/girl twin mom to 3 year olds, Adalia and Emerson. She is the owner and designer of J. Scott Events where she plans and executes weddings around the world. Jessica has also served FWMoM's in 2019 as Events Coordinator.
At Fort Worth Mothers of Multiples, we believe in giving back through our time, our talents and our resources. We have partnered with NICU Helping Hands and Gathering Hope by sharing our gift of knitting and crochet.
NICU Helping Hands provides education and support for families while their babies are in the NICU, during their transition from hospital to home, and in the event of an infant loss. One of the many ways NICU Helping Hands provides hope for families in the NICU is through their Beanies for Babies program. Each holiday, volunteers knit and crochet beanies for babies in the NICU. This offers the families a little bit of normalcy and fun during a very stressful time. Fort Worth Mothers of Multiples donated over 200 beanies to NICU Helping Hands during our 2019-2020 year. If you would like to learn more about NICU Helping Hands, visit their website at nicuhelpinghands.org.
Gathering Hope is a non-profit organization which passionately advocates for survivors of miscarriage and infant loss. Each year, Gathering Hope meets together to provide a place to grieve and celebrate the life of each baby, no matter how short. Every mom in attendance receives a small memento of a handmade heart. Fort Worth Mothers of Multiples was able to provide over 125 crocheted hearts for Gathering Hope’s next event, Gathering 2020. If you have experienced infant loss or a miscarriage and would like more resources or support please visit their website at gatheringhope.net.
If you would like to learn how to crochet or if you would like more information about how to participate in Fort Worth Mothers of Multiples crochet group, please reach out to Sue Norton. Sue is also hosting a virtual crochet "get-together" through Zoom tomorrow night (September 3rd at 8 PM). Please join us to make some beanies for NICU helping hands and/or chat with some of the other MoMs. To register please click the following link: https://www.fwmom.org/event-3943828
Jenna Bingener is a twin mom to 4 year old girls, Annabelle and Maggie. She is a flight attendant and training instructor. She also serves on the board as the President for FWMoM.
I love Back to School season. For me and many moms of school aged or even preschool kids, it is my Happy New Year. This is when I make my real resolutions to get my schedule in order, my house in order, my eating and meal planning cleaned up. I exercise regularly and pay more attention to my spiritual growth. I make plans to spend time with friends, and work on my professional development even if I am not being paid for my services. My kids also are ready to get back to school, sports, friends, and even a bit of learning while I take care of the mundane parts of running our household, work on projects that bring me joy, and take some time for myself. The best part of the day is still when they come home and tell me everything that happened while they were away.
This year, we were especially ready for Back to School. I mean that was a really, really long Spring Break. Our school worked hard since March on a plan and safe procedures for in-person learning. We had been following appropriate precautions so that our children would be safe and healthy at school, but not all families had done the same so after the first half day of orientation, our upper school switched to two weeks of distance learning. The hope is that the students can return to in-person learning after Labor Day. The biggest lesson learned since the beginning of the pandemic is how to quickly pivot.
Although we are disappointed, we have continued with our Back to School traditions with changes for the current times. We shopped for school supplies for ourselves, and plenty to donate to others. Only this year, we did it online. We packed up necessary supplies in their backpacks for school: folder, notebooks, paper, pens, laptops, phone chargers, as well as hand sanitizer, a ziplock bag of extra masks and one of disinfecting wipes. Uniforms were ordered and washed and hung up. For now, they only must wear the tops so we will save on wear and tear on the bottoms and their tennis shoes. We planned our “school” lunches, and family dinners since these will all be at home … oh, how I miss their school cafeteria.
The night before the first day, we shared a special family meal, and I made us all breakfast before the first classes began. On the half days, we took pictures in front of the same tree in the front yard that we have taken our First Day of School pictures since kindergarten. We forgot our “First Day of Junior Year” signs, and they weren’t in uniform so we are going to have retakes because over the years, we’ve also learned to be flexible.
In the past, I would have been so unhappy that it did not all work out perfectly, but now I know it is the memories, not the photos, that are important.
Regardless of the challenges, this year’s Back to School will still be my Happy New Year. I resolve to continue to have a positive outlook. I will greet each additional day that my children are home in distance learning as another opportunity for me to model gratitude, patience, grace and resiliency during this uneasy time. My children will see me taking time for my physical and mental well being as I exercise, eat food that fuels my body, read books for fun, read my Bible, reduce my media consumption, play, and rest. I also resolve to focus more on their well being this school year than their achievement. I have been guilty in the past of focusing on fixing my kids so much that I fail at times to thoroughly enjoy them. To that end, we will return to eating our meals at our dining table after we got into a terrible habit of eating watching television together. We will have more family games of cards and movies by the pool. Of course, I also plan to clean out piles of junk. I have scheduled doctor’s appointments – yes I’m in perimenopause and that’s just grand, and finally an optometrist appointment – hello, trifocals. We also have a long-awaited upgrade to our main living space that I cannot wait to share with you all.
The Back to School may not be what we planned for, wished for, or prayed for, but it’s the one we have, and it’s up to us to choose to make it the best Back to School we can for our children and for ourselves.
Linda Kennedy M.S. – TLC’s Dallas Fort Worth area Associate, is the mother of 16 year old twins, Shane and Savannah, and wife of 25 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.
There are days in history that we mark, that changed our world in an instant. Sometimes we see those days approaching and know it’s going to be big. Other times, we are moved by an event suddenly happening. Think of 9/11, Landing on the moon, Hiroshima... to the things within our personal realm like the birth of a child(ren), the ultrasound appointment, the death of a parent, or the moment we fall in love. Each moment has such power to alter the course of our lives. How about a pandemic? 2020 has been a looming cloud, with moments that have shaken our world as we know it. For strong times like this, we need to call on a power greater than any circumstance. That power is the power of prayer.
That’s exactly what Betsy Price and the City of Fort Worth have done. With the support of the City Council, a Proclamation of prayer to eradicate COVID-19 was released. Today is the day. August 19th is the day that this pandemic will be stopped in Fort Worth and the surrounding area. How can I be certain of this? Because the power of prayer is that strong.
“Prayer breaks all bars, dissolves all chains, opens all prisons, and widens all straights by which God’s saints have been held.” E.M. Bounds made this statement and it has stuck with me. There is a power released when we pray that cannot be released any other way. We have experienced this countless times in our family. The most noteworthy in this circle is the healthy pregnancy and birth of our twins. I know many of you have similar stories of how God made a way, where there seemed to be no way. I bet you can look back and see where He answered those prayers!
When we, as a city, pray for the eradication of disease and the healing of our families, we are saying to God: we trust you that You are good, and that You have the power to overcome all the hurt and devastation this virus has caused.
“...the man on his knees has a leverage underneath the mountain which can cast it into the sea, if necessary, can force all earth and heaven to recognize the power there is in ‘His name.” -M.E. Andross.
We should pray as Jesus prayed in Matthew 6, the famous Lord’s Prayer gives us a road map as we align ourselves with this proclamation:
“Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
The statement ‘on Earth as it is in Heaven’... y’all realize there’s no COVID up there!
“Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
There is nothing godly or holy or good about this virus! We can pray for deliverance and healing and restoration from anything that punk devil tries to kill us with!
If you’re struggling financially because of this pandemic, you can take it to the bank that God wants to supply your needs (daily bread) and won’t forsake you and your family.
“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever, Amen.”
To be completely clear, the power to eradicate this virus is entirely in the hands of God... but He can only move when we pray. The requirement on us is to pray only and trust that He is working the second we open our mouth. Answered prayer is not based on our goodness, but His, not on our ability to pray, but His ability to move when we pray.
Even if you don’t pray eloquent prayers, or even know how to begin to pray, start here with the Lord’s prayer. It’s possible you’re reading this after the noon hour set aside by the officials. Pray now and don’t stop praying!
We have marked it. This day, August 19th, is set apart as a day that changed Fort Worth and the surrounding areas, which causes a ripple effect to flow across this state and nation! Most importantly, it changed us.
Tonya Flowers is mother to Lucas 9, and twins Wyatt and Timothy who are 4. She's a wife, nurse, and minister, and currently serves FWMOM as our chaplain.
“Hey! We’re pregnant with twins!” my husband exclaimed at the twin parents seated a few tables away, as we walked to our seats at the restaurant. The woman flipped her hair back and said with such confidence, “Prepare for celebrity status. Everyone knows a twin, is a twin, has a twin, or wants to know your story.”She could not have been more correct. 4 and a half years in and we have had thousands of conversations, dealing with our fair share of both the kind remarks and the snarky ones, and in every encounter, I hear that woman’s voice in the back of my head, “Prepare for celebrity status.”
What was she even talking about!? In the beginning, it felt like a curse…
When we found out we were having twins, we were ecstatic! I know that isn’t the case for everyone at first, but my husband and I had struggled through infertility for 4 and a half years so the news of two was such a blessing to our broken hearts. As we called family and friends, an opinionated acquaintance decided that then would be a good time to laugh and jokingly say, “Good luck with that…Better you than me!”
I was furious. Good luck? Now? How rude of someone to tell me “Good luck with that” after delivering the best news of my entire life, after living a 4.5 year nightmare!
Disclaimer though… I was newly pregnant with twins. My hormones made me into a very impatient and angry woman in the first trimester, and nothing anyone said, regardless of how they said it- came out right to me.
My poor husband.
Fast forward to the second encounter. My husband and I wheeled the twins out of our hospital room in their bassinets and a new, tired dad walked out of his room and said, “twins?” My husband and I looked at each other like, ‘Did he really just ask that?’ I kept my eyes focused on my husband while he responded with a chuckle, “They sure are!”
This time I studied the question, paired with the voice in the back of my head.
I was warned y’all. Almost 9 months before encounter number 2, God had placed a fellow twin mom in my path to warn me that I would soon be having conversations with random strangers for the next 18 years, minimum, and that I needed to get my mind right for what was to come. I had a choice to make that day in the hospital. I could either be irritated every time someone opened their mouth and inserted their foot, or I could learn to bring joy to every encounter.
I chose the latter.
Now I’m not perfect, but this is now one area in which I have tried to remain intentional with the way I respond, and thought that this would be a good space to share this idea with people who get it! You’re probably better at this than I am, but in the event you’re struggling, I hope this helps!!!
When I am stopped and someone tells me that they too have twins, I smile and ask their ages and if they’re older than mine, I almost always respond with a laugh and, “Oh, so you survived this stage! There’s hope!!”
When I am stopped by a twin, or a set of twins, I almost always ask for a tip!! For instance, “Do you recommend I split the twins up in school? Why or why not?” This allows someone who has experienced it firsthand to give input that could potentially change the future for my kids! (Also, the majority have so far said that they were grateful to be split up in school because it was the only time they had away from their twin, which blew my mind.)
And of course, let’s not skip over the remarks of those who feel the need to say things like, “Better you than me!” and “You sure have your hands full!” Even when people say that with a rude tone, I still try and have patience with them. Some have said it to be funny, but there have also been a few rude encounters. I simply reply with a chuckle and say, “God sure knew what He was doing when He gave them to ME then, huh!”
The key thing here is I always try to leave the conversation and the people we’ve encountered better off than we found them. We try leaving them with a smile, or a new perspective. We try to leave them laughing, and we try to shine God’s light on a very dark world.
Being a parent of multiples is a very rare and very special experience. Almost daily, we will experience people and conversations the rest of the world is completely oblivious to. We are let in on family secrets, struggles, hopes, and dreams, all because of the title we carry as Mom of Multiples. It is not a gift to take lightly or take for granted, either. We were hand selected and given an incredible opportunity to share Love.
Have the conversations. Involve the kids in it. Enjoy it!
I try to teach my boys that God gave them a twin so that they would have more opportunities to share Jesus with the world.
So if you see a new twin mom, warn her. Tell her that this is the time to decide if they're going to use her new gift of celebrity status as a burden or a blessing.
Sara is a mom to four year old twins, a two year old, and a bonus mom to a twelve and thirteen year old. She is a Christian social media influencer, and serves on the praise and worship team at Birdville Baptist Church.
To put it lightly, the last couple of months have brought a lot of unexpected and sudden changes into our lives. To most it probably feels like the world has been flipped upside down. We went from constant social interaction to seeing the same couple of faces in our household for what feels like an eternity. I think a lot of us have gotten used to hearing “our new normal” but if this is truly a new normal, we need to find a way to re-connect.
Did you know that connection is actually considered a physiological need? Just like we need water and food, our mind and body crave social interaction. Professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, did a study that showed an increase of social interaction can be linked to lower instances of stroke and coronary artery disease, higher levels of oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, and lower blood pressure levels and anxiety. Some interesting things that Professor Holt-Lunstad found were that cardiovascular and neuroendocrine responses to stress lowered when subjects were near or thinking about someone they love and trust1.
Another study which hits a little closer to home for most of us MoMs, is about the interaction between parents and NICU babies. It’s been proven that constant human contact (touching, cuddling, or talking and singing) can help babies’ brains develop and help their heart rate to stabilize. Performing these actions causes their brain to produce certain hormones and chemicals which will help them thrive2.
Lastly, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has identified eight dimensions of wellness to focus on to optimize health. Two of the dimensions require interaction with others. One of the dimensions is Social, which states you need to develop a sense of connection, belonging and a well-developed support system. The second is Emotional and consists of coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships3.
Now that we’ve talked about all the benefits that come from connecting with others, I don’t know about you but it makes me miss my friends tremendously! I look back and think about how much I took “connection” for granted. Now with the craziness of the world, the need to distance leaves us wanting more connection and interaction. Connection is not something we consciously think about doing like we do with eating or bathing, but as children and adults we have emotional “buckets” that can get full and of course, can also empty. It seems like during this crazy time most of our buckets have been drained, but most of us live with others (even if those others are only babbling all day long). So why is it that we still feel so emotionally disconnected? If you are reading this, then I know you have one of the most important resources known to man…technology. Yes, I know some people will give me 500 reasons why technology is bad for our society and with some of it, I do agree. However, during such an isolating time, I think it is time we took advantage of all the benefits that can come from it. This little handheld device or computer gives you access to refill your buckets with just a couple of clicks.
Here are a couple of examples that technology can help us socialize during this trying time:
Now that we’ve talked about refilling your own buckets, let’s talk about how to fill our kids’ buckets…and let’s be honest, yes your bucket should come first because if yours is empty, you have nothing to fill anyone else’s with. Research has shown that children who lacked early human contact (love and attention) indicated a drastic lack of emotional development as they grew older. Connecting with your child not only creates a better bond between the two of you, it can also assist with their success in the future. It’s important to note that little kids’ buckets can fill really quickly, but they also empty just as quickly. You may have to have several “touch points” throughout the day for their bucket to be steadily filled. One way to do this is to aim for several hugs and/or kisses throughout the day. Let them feel all the love you have for them. Another way to connect with your kid is by putting your phone down! I know I am guilty of getting glued to a game or social media for far too long, but nowadays there are settings or apps on most phones now that allow you to limit the amount of time you spend on your phone and its apps.
Here are a couple of my favorite examples of how to connect with your kids:
The last couple of weeks have been chaotic and stressful but I hope you can put some of these in practice and fill your buckets to them brim!
Valerie is a mom to one-year-old twins, Oliver and Dexter. She serves FWMOM as a co-
chair VP of programs.
1. Frame, S. (2017, October 18). Julianne Holt-Lunstad probes loneliness, social connections. Retrieved August 05, 2020, from https://www.apa.org/members/content/holt-lunstad-loneliness-social-connections
2. Bonding with your premature baby in the NICU. (2019, July 31). Retrieved August 06, 2020, from https://raisingchildren.net.au/newborns/premature-babies/connecting-communicating/bonding-in-the-nicu
3. Kobrin, M. (n.d.). Promoting Wellness for Better Behavioral and Physical Health. Retrieved August 06, 2020, from https://mfpcc.samhsa.gov/ENewsArticles/Article12b_2017.aspx
As our year comes to an end, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to share the 2020 End of Year Celebration Video with you all. If you were unable to join us live for the premiere, I hope you can find a spare half hour to go back and view the presentation. Personally, it has been such a pleasure to serve FWMoM this year, as this organization holds a special place in my heart. I recently renewed my membership, and am proud to have earned my Five Year Member badge! The past five years have definitely been a whirlwind of adventure, and I would like to share with you a little about my journey with this group.
Five years ago, I had infant twins, and was feeling somewhat overwhelmed. When they were in the NICU, they had a whole team of caregivers to tend to their every need - BUT - after bringing them home, it was suddenly just us. At that point, I was sleep-deprived, weakened by my stint on bedrest, and unsure how to go about dividing my time between my two new babies. Caring for two infants at once comes with a pretty steep learning curve. I will forever be grateful to have found this amazing tribe of women. Each of you have gone through a similar experience. You understand the challenges I have gone through, those I am currently facing, or the new ones I am about to encounter. There are so many MoMs in this tribe who are equipped to provide encouragement, because they are speaking to each of our shared experiences. This really has helped me get through the tricky times and trials of raising young twins.
As my boys have grown older, I have enjoyed many successful parenting moments, where I felt like I was starting to get the hang of things... But as you will likely agree, right after that great moment, usually everything changes. Then, I have to scramble to overcome a brand new challenge! This is honestly what motherhood is like...each MoM must constantly improvise, adapt to new situations, and overcome unexpected obstacles. For this year’s theme, I chose to highlight these three behaviors as essential skills for FWMoM members. If you want to get the most out of this group experience, I hope you will consider these tips (from a MoM who has been around long enough to know):
FWMoM tips to not just survive, but THRIVE:
F Fun: Attend events (whether virtually or in-person) and enjoy some much-needed and well-deserved MoM time.
W Work together: Look for opportunities to get involved, volunteer, and support one another.
M Make friends: Connect with other moms and form community.
O Openness: Join in with an open-heart and an open-mind.
M Make time: Invest in yourself and invest in others.
Take it from me; this organization has so much to offer every one of our members. Our volunteer board members gladly give so much of their time and energy to plan all sorts of events for all of our MoMs. The time they give is time that could be spent elsewhere, but instead they have chosen to devote it to FWMoM. Why is that? It’s because every volunteer understands the vital importance of offering support to our members. It’s because we’ve been there! It is such a pleasure to be able to support our MoMs with younger children now that my own have grown older. I find that I continue to benefit from this group regardless of whether I am the one receiving or the one giving. No matter how old my children are, I strongly believe FWMoM will always have something very special to offer my family.
One more way FWMoM is dedicated to supporting our members is by offering reduced dues for the August 2020 through July 2021 membership year. We know that raising multiples can be stressful, wonderful, chaotic, overwhelming, and joyous. Luckily, we are all in this together! As I have said, this group has meant so much to me throughout our journey so far, and I have loved being a member. I hope you join me in another great year of membership, by renewing TODAY.
If you’re like me, you’re wondering, “What the heck am I going to do with my preschool kids this year?” My twins are two (almost three) and I had wanted to put them into a Mother’s Day Out program this fall, but with the COVID craziness, I just feel I can’t. I have been WAITING for the day I could let them learn and play a few hours each week while I run errands, go to the doctor, or get a haircut without having to pay a babysitter. I mean…how many of us haven’t dreamed of at least making a trip to the “big girl potty” without our precious littles stopping by to see? We’ve ALL been WAITING for this day.
However, because I’m too unsettled in my heart, I’m going to take a pass on school this year. I’m going to keep them home. Here’s the next hurdle I need to jump: what the heck do I do now?
Maybe you’re like me and unsure of what to do with your preschoolers. Maybe you’re in the spin cycle of emotions trying to discern medical recommendations and what you feel in your gut. I checked out the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines by the Texas Education Agency and I just decided that as for in-person school, I will skip it. Skip it all. So, what now?
“Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho” off to the internet I go… a quick google search gives me what I’m looking for.
There are preschool curriculum's heavy in structure, some with no structure, some focused on avid readers, faith-based, play-based, worksheet-based, or exploration-based learning. You can really cherry pick your plan.
With a quick google search you’re going to find the top choices for preschool homeschool curriculum. Read that. It’s going to give you some good information. If you don’t have time to read it, you’ll find most of the information below.
For this age, play-based instruction is key. As the above article explains, “Play is a well-documented human instinct that enables children to practice real-life scenarios. Through play-based learning, children hone their problem-solving and social skills, increase their vocabularies, and become more physically agile.”1
Look for programs that teach these skills through hands on learning:
Math skills, including colors and time orientation, fine motor skills, and sensory exploration.
Here’s a list of curricula taken directly from the article1 (or you can click the article and see the list with a more detailed description of each):
1. Before Five in a Row – Two part curriculum; the first is reading-based and second is learning in everyday life. 1
2. WinterPromise – Christian based curriculum with two distinct options: a read aloud program and a program focused on language and math skills through play. These options can be run side-by-side. This curriculum is geared for 3-5 years of age. 1
3. Sonlight – Literature-based Christian preschool curriculum with play. 1
4. A Year of Playing Skillfully – Play-based curriculum for children ages 3-5 years. Based on the book The Homegrown Preschooler. 1
5. BookShark – Literature-based, hands-on, faith-neutral curriculum for children ages 3-5. 1
After you’ve thumbed through that, here are some really good resources to remember: There are free or inexpensive online or app programs that can supplement learning:
ABC Mouse - $9.95/mo
Starfall - $35/year – I was able to get onto this website and play a bit without signing in.
Khan Academy – Free – no ads and no subscriptions, donations accepted, non-profit
Epic!- $7.99 per month, digital library for kids
Vooks - $4.99 per month, story books brought to life
Some of these may offer free enrollment or a reduced price as many are doing online learning around the country this year.
More resources for homeschooling:
If you are homeschooling your kids, remember:
1. No one knows your kids better than you do. Go with your gut.
2. Your kids are kids. Have fun! Enjoy this age.
3. Homeschooling doesn’t have to be scary. Keep it simple and age appropriate.
4. Language, communication, and social/emotional skills are key for preschoolers: model, teach, and practice.2
And OH! You’re going to rock this!
Catrina is mom to two-year-old twins, Cooper and Cydney, and serves as treasurer of FWMoM.
1 Bales, Kris. "Top Choices for Preschool Homeschool Curriculum." ThoughtCo, Feb. 11, 2020, thoughtco.com/preschool-homeschool-curriculum-4163550.
2 Walker, Jennifer. Personal interview. 14 July 2020. She worked as a certified Early Childhood Special Education teacher for 8 years has worked in childcare teacher for 10 years
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.