Multiples of America’s 2021 Summit

Due to the pandemic, Multiples of America’s 2021 Convention suffered a similar fate to that of 2020: it was canceled. Rather than go to San Antonio for four days, participants could log-on to a two-day Summit on Zoom instead. Many of the features that go along with convention were moved to taking place in advance (such as what is normally the Budget & Bylaw workshop and the Memorial Service), or scrapped from the lineup (such as the Local Club and State Networking sessions). Still, a large amount of content and discussion took place to carry out the business of the organization on July 31st and August 1st.

The credentials report noted that 130 people registered to attend, representing 34 states and 70 clubs.

The first day opened with an inspirational message delivered by Kionna-Alycia Keels, a MoM in South Carolina, about letting go of things that weren’t meant to be, and judging by the comments in the Zoom, was very well received. There were multiple reports given, including the minutes of the 2019 convention, the treasurer’s report, president’s report, nominating committee’s report, and the annual report. Voting was done smoothly via an electronic system, which allowed the organization to be able to adopt standing rules, the convention program, and more.

Elected positions were handled simply, as there was a single slate. Amendments 1-5 yielded little discussion, though 6 (the dues increase) was more complicated. This is likely due to previous discussions in the mini-zoom forums over the past few months. All amendments passed.

The keynote for the first day was Christie Cuthbert, a Texas MoM with a singleton and triplets. She has a few published books and other accolades, and spoke about lessening your anxieties and enjoying the journey of family life. She shared her fertility journey, her failure at going back to work, and other ups and downs. One section discussed social media and how what is posted isn’t always the whole picture and she gave a humorous example from real life. She also spoke a bit about limiting your social media to only things that bring you joy.

The second day again opened with an inspirational message by Kionna-Alycia Keels, who spoke this time about music and volunteering. The big question was asking what part of the body you are, whether feet or hands or voice or heart, etc. and finding a way to volunteer in your local club to use who you are. She gave examples about secretary could be hands because they type the minutes, meal train organizers and mentor coordinators would be heart because they care, etc.

Service awards were presented for those completing 1-year, 5-year, 10, 15, 20, and 25 years of service to the organization.

The budget as originally presented was defeated, for two main reasons: more information is now available regarding changes in upcoming costs than was known at the time it was put together, and also the vote yesterday changed the dues to be received. The new budget passed unanimously.

“The Good of the Order” allowed clubs to share positive things that are happening, and that took place for about 40 minutes.

The keynote speakers for Sunday were a mother-daughter duo of medical professionals, Curline & Candace Olusula (Candace’s brother is Kevin from Pentatonix). They spoke on “Raising Children to Walk in Freedom” and took turns presenting. It was significantly longer than the previous day’s speaker, and included a powerpoint that covered everything from the wisdom of trauma to stressors to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Women historically being stress absorbers was also discussed, three biblical quotes were given, the mantra “inner heart before outer art” was explained, perhaps the biggest takeaway was making sure to clarify for your children in advance on how to behave in different situations.

The outgoing President made a speech, the officers were inducted, and the incoming President shared her vision for the new term before the Summit wrapped. This year’s motto will be “Partners in Progress.”

Reviewing 2020-2021

It may not have been a typical membership year, but 2020-2021 was still a memorable one!

Playdates were not a large focus at the start of the term, due to the pandemic, but they picked up throughout the year, with locations including local playgrounds and splash pads, trips to the Orlando area for the Orlando Science Center, Bithlo Community Center, and Leu Gardens, down to Vero Beach for the McKee Gardens and LaPorte Farms, and the club even tried an evening ice cream playdate and a weekend bowling playdate this year.

Moms’ Days/Nights Out had something to offer everyone this past year, including virtual opportunities to chat, dig up treasures inside your home, and mix cocktails, as well as locations around town, including lunch out, and a yoga & beer morning. The group also tried out wine glass painting and a workshop at Co/Create, and had their third annual Food & Wine Festival day at EPCOT. That was only the first of three visits to Disney property this year, as the club also tried out a visit to the Festival of the Arts and a resort day where they took part in Sangria University.

Family Events looked a little different this year, with the club opting not to host their traditional Back-to-School Bash or Winter Holiday Picnic, but instead held a socially-distanced Trunk-or-Treat that brought out 19 families! A weekend camping trip was also in the cards this year, which is an event that the club held annually years ago. Due to scheduling, weather, and sudden changes to family availability, it wasn’t a huge turnout but a good time was still had by those who were able to make it. The Spring Picnic with minimal interaction (think: egg hunt by groups, take-home snack and craft) was able to take place and brought out 14 families, and 10 also came out to take part in a group 1K to raise awareness of Multiple Birth families.

Special Events were a little light this year, with a virtual Recognition and Installation ceremony, a virtual contingent attending the 2020 state convention, and 14 MoMs attending a minimally-touched-gifts-exchange evening. The Dads did a Hollywood Studios day, as well as a liquor tasting at a local restaurant. The Club turned 38 years old in May, and although the recruitment event brought no new faces, those attending enjoyed a fun afternoon of playground and cupcakes. One new special event was coordinated with one of the group’s local partners, Allison Leigh Photography, and members signed-up to participate in photography mini-sessions – the images were fantastic!

There were 10 planning meetings, all but two of which were fully virtual, and the others were a hybrid held at another partner, Droplit.

The General Meetings this year ranged from games like Trivia and playing Never Have I Ever to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House to educational like a Marriage & Family Therapist speaker, a panel featuring Speech & Occupational Therapists, and a roundtable where members could ask and share about their experiences educating multiples. There was also a night to create Love Notes and one making air plants for your fridge to celebrate Earth Day. Perhaps the biggest hit of all, though, was the parking lot Dessert & Dish to catch-up after a crazy summer.

In addition to events, the club also had some other projects going on! They created a Family Fun folder to access on Facebook, which is a collaborative effort to share resources. They also got an Amazon Smile account going, so anyone can have a portion of their eligible Amazon purchases go toward the club, and it received $13.40 in the first year. The annual online holiday shopping fundraiser brought in $507.50, which was donated to the Brevard Zoo, and the aforementioned Never Have I Ever fundraiser brought in $530 as well. The club also brought back its virtual Spirit Week for a second year, and a new compilation of parenting resources that can be accessed through the Facebook group is getting added to as well. The club also tried a Secret Santa-esque Mother’s Day gift exchange, which was reviewed highly by those who participated.

Congratulations, Space Coast Mothers of Multiples, on a great year!

Recognition & Installation 2021

On Tuesday night, Space Coast Mothers of Multiples installed their new Executive Board! The club celebrated on the patio of Uno Pizzeria & Grill in Viera, with 16 members attending.

The evening began with recalling the events from the past year, including a Trunk-or-Treat, a Spring Party, a Holiday gift exchange, wine glass painting, yoga, and plenty of parking lot meetups! The club then moved on to recognizing some of the members responsible for making all of that possible, the Light in Shining Armor and the Thanks-a-Latte recipients.

Afterward, the 1-year, 5-year, 20-year, and 25-year members were acknowledged before the outgoing President was presented with a gift of gratitude.

The officers were then installed, and the 2020-2021 positions will be held by President Amy Bredemeyer, Membership Vice President Arayna Klenke, Resource Vice President Carissa Crossman Murray, Secretary Monet Payne, and Treasurer Amy Baehl. (pictured here with Installing Officer and Past President Teresa Nick).

Serving as the remainder of the Executive Committee will include: Penny Castor (Chair of Stork), Becky Ciarcia (Chair of Playdates and Chair of Ways and Means), Carrie Howell (Chair of Social Media), and Maria Torsney (Chair of Sunshine). Amanda English will serve as Advisor. However, there are still plenty of ways to help this year, so please contact Amy Bredemeyer with any ideas you have!

While the board is transitioning, the club is still taking renewals for the 2021-2022 membership year, so please get your annual form and dues in! Contact the Treasurer or Membership VP with any questions.

Mother’s Day Fun

In 2018 and 2019, Space Coast Mothers of Multiples had a May event designed as a Celebration of Motherhood. Among many things in 2020, it did not take place for obvious reasons. Sadly, the tea shoppe where the previous events were held did not last through the pandemic, so a new approach was deemed necessary. For 2021, a Celebration of Motherhood was really done in three parts!

First, club partner Allison Leigh Photography, set-up a day when our members’ families could do individual mini sessions at a discounted rate. The turnaround time was amazing and the images were excellent! As a thank-you for participating, the club also gave each member family a photo frame to use in displaying their portraits.

Second, the club ran a Secret Santa-esque exchange where members could opt-in to share their favorite things and be matched with someone to put together a small gift for. Recipients did not learn who magically left them a porch present, and many of the participants remarked about the great items they received. Below are a couple of the great packages!

May Gifts

Last, to make sure all were included, Mother’s Day cards were mailed out to all members. Space Coast Mothers of Multiples has had a holiday card tradition going for a few years now, but this was the first mass-mailing attempted otherwise – and aside from a few cards getting delayed on their way to their destinations, feedback was warm and fuzzy.

These were lovely ways to be reminded how meaningful it is to be recognized as a mother, even if no big event could take place.

A Socially-Distant Spring

Getting together for an Egg Hunt (see: 2019 and 2016 as examples) is a favorite springtime activity! Even though the logistics of having big family events has been challenging all term, this year’s Spring Party proved to be a step toward the way things used to be for Space Coast Mothers of Multiples. Crafts were take-home and snacks were pre-packaged, plus the egg-hunting was set to allow for four age groups with small numbers in each. It was different, but it was still a lot of fun. Many of the kids complimented the tiny toys found in the eggs!

For Multiple Birth Awareness Month 2021, the club designated a Saturday to do a 1K at a local park with paved paths. This allowed families to get as close to one another as they desired, while visibly raising awareness about multiple birth families.

Nationwide, Multiples of America hosted a walk/run/sleep-in event all month long, with funds raised from registrations to go toward scholarships and grants. Space Coast Mothers of Multiples was glad to be able to take part!

Finding Family Fun

It may be a year into the pandemic, but members are still looking for ways to have fun as a family, so the theme of this month’s general meeting was just that: Family Fun. There was a wide variety of ideas and approaches discussed, so to archive some of that information, a blog post seemed to be the perfect fit!

Two club members presented suggestions and led the discussions, starting with the club’s resources devoted to families. First up is the new Family Fun folder in the Facebook group – this is a compilation of ideas that others have tried or have thought looked like great ideas. Crafts, fun meal themes, print-outs, games, scavenger hunts, and more are already filling the album, with the hope that members will continue contributing to it whenever opportunity strikes.

Also discussed was the Summer Playdate Calendar – the club puts a lot of emphasis on spending time together during the summer, when kids are out of school, so playdates are offered weekly for those months rather than the more typical 2-3 per month. Venues range from outdoor and indoor, free to ticketed, weekday and weekend, morning and afternoon, and are even aimed at various ages to help make all of our members feel welcome. For Summer 2019 and prior, members have also taken the initiative to put together charts of all of the local free movies and library activities that the large county as to offer, which has been an excellent resource for members as well.

The club has a Resource Guide that is updated twice annually with all sorts of information, large chunks of which are very useful to planning family activities! There is a page for library stortimes, one for local festivals, a few for local attractions, a few for trail guides across the county, plus an opt-in map of where members live and a membership directory to help members connect better with those who live near them, have multiples of a similar age, or even just similar interests! Examples of these pages were shown, as well as the links that make the maps (both directory and trail) interactive.

For many years, an annual camping trip was something that the club looked forward to. It was revived earlier this month for Spring Break with a three-night trip to Salt Springs in the Ocala National Forest. Those families who attended reported a great time with plenty of family fun, and the club intends to examine bringing it back again in 2022.

February 2021 Member Breakdown

February 1st starts the second half of the membership year for Space Coast Mothers of Multiples, so it is typically when a demographic overview is updated.

Types of Multiples: the club has similar numbers of boy/boy, girl/girl, and boy/girl twins. There are two triplet families currently, each having two girls and one boy. No current members have quads or higher. One of the members currently expecting does not yet know the sexes.

Ages of Multiples: While many clubs across the country have their highest numbers in expecting, newborn, and infant mothers of multiples, Space Coast’s membership has a balance of age groups, with about half of the members having age 3 and younger, and the other half age 4 and older. A quarter of all families in the club have multiples ages 7 and up.

Location of Members: “Space Coast” is a nickname for Brevard County, Florida, as NASA and other space systems companies are based here. The county is 72 miles north-to-south, and it also includes barrier islands, yet our membership extends beyond those boundaries. We have members who raised their multiples here and have moved but continue to remain in the organization, and we also have members in neighboring counties where formal clubs do not exist. The breakdown is more balanced at the moment than it has been in several years.

Length of Membership: The club’s 38th birthday is less than three months away, and their longest-active member has belonged for 28 of those years! Nearly a quarter of the club’s members have belonged for over five years, and its growth rate is great with another quarter of its members just joining in the past twelve months!

More than Multiples: Lastly, a quick look at how many members have children in addition to their multiples. At present, there are no members with more than one set of multiples. Nearly half of the members have additional children, but amusingly, no member has singletons both older and younger than their multiples at the moment.

As seen above, many different types of members make up Space Coast Mothers of Multiples. If you’ve wondered about the group in the past or are discovering it now for the first time, please reach out – more information is available and your emails will be answered promptly.

For a look at how this compares to past numbers, 2019 can be viewed here and 2020 can be viewed here.

What other demographic information would be interesting to learn more about?

$500 for the Brevard Zoo!

For the past five years, Space Coast Mothers of Multiples has held an online fundraiser the week of Black Friday where it showcases various online sales companies, each of which donates a portion of the sales to our chosen cause. Given that online shopping is perhaps more popular than ever, it is no surprise that the event did very well this year!

Due to the pandemic, the Brevard Zoo (here in the heart of the Space Coast!) has been severely impacted. The club selected the Zoo to be the recipient of this year’s donations, which totaled $500. As many of the member families frequent the zoo (or did when their multiples were younger), it is near and dear to hearts club-wide, and has been since it was built! In the early 1990s, several MoMs did a day of volunteering to help prepare the area now known as Paws On.

This post will later be updated with photos once donor recognition elements have been installed at the zoo.

A Different December

With the pandemic continuing on, the club opted not to have craft playdates or a family event in December, which are typical mainstays for the organization. It did, however, continue with its annual Sock Exchange event.

The attire was not only “ugly sweater,” but also included a competition for best socks! Everyone also brought a pair of socks stuffed with goodies, and to play it safe, this year the socks weren’t opened until all picks and steals had been made to minimize handling. It definitely made for an interesting activity, to choose a gift purely based on its wrapping! Three sets of MoMs ended up selecting the socks that one another had brought, so it was certainly an evening where great minds thought alike! It was different to not enjoy the comfy couches and bowls of snacks that is the usual, but attendees were grateful for the opportunity to sit spaces out on a member’s patio and enjoy pre-packaged goodies nonetheless.

Fall Fun 2020

With no Back-to-School kickoff to our membership year, and no big trip to Partin Ranch, the fall was starting to look a little rough in the face of the ongoing pandemic. Fortunately, some members came up with a safe idea for a socially-distanced Trunk-or-Treat, and it was a highlight of the fall!

The club had a fantastic turnout with 54 children and their families participating. Due to the nature of the event, it was difficult to capture photos of everyone, but ALL of the costumes were as great as these!

The fall’s Informative meeting was a virtual roundtable focused on Education during the Pandemic. Members submitted questions in advance, and a moderator led the discussion, ranging from picking a preschool to dealing with elementary bullying.

The MoMs had a day out at EPCOT in September for the third year, but the dads had their own fun at Hollywood Studios this year, too! Little by little, the world is reopening, and the club did a moms’ night out at a local art studio in October, as crafts are a favorite with this bunch! The annual holiday group shopping trip at the local outdoor mall continued to be a hit as well. The rest of the fall was peppered with virtual moms’ nights in and playdates at parks and outdoor ice cream venues.