Convention 2019: We Did It!

Convention Committee

The 39th annual Florida Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs (FOMOTC) convention will be especially memorable for Space Coast Mothers of Multiples members, as it was the first time many of them were part of the hosting club! The dedication of the convention co-chairs over the course of the past year led to a successful weekend in many ways. From the costumed registration volunteers handing out gorgeous lanyards to the variety of entertaining workshops to the largest Buy, Show, Sell in recent organizational memory, it would be difficult to pinpoint the highest point of convention.

Pres Breakfast
Club Presidents from across the state discuss what’s working and what’s not in their local groups

Throughout the process of planning this FOMOTC convention, committee members learned a great deal about working together, and many reached out to family and friends far and wide to bring little details that will be remembered for years to come. It’s not every year that twins make up half of the color guard on Saturday mornings, that attendees are able to take a centerpiece from both the luncheon and the banquet, that multiple graphics were created for shirts, and that registrants receives jewelry as part of their swag.

Glittery jars with fairies, dragons, mermaids, and the like adorned the tables at the masquerade

Space Coast Mothers of Multiples proudly had nearly half of its members attend the convention, and also was successful in increasing the total number of attendees from across the state by nearly 20% over the past three years. The club fondly sends the 2020 committee best wishes in their planning, and looks forward to a more relaxing weekend next October.

Fri Dinner Convention
out to dinner Friday night
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Space Coast Mothers of Multiples with their rainbow rose corsages!

Looking Ahead at the Year

Space Coast Mothers of Multiples took a different approach to board meetings this year. After the new executive committee took over at the end of June, rather than plan month-to-month or a few events at a time, they dedicated a Saturday to looking at the entire year.

board retreat

Everyone came with ideas to improve the way they complete their position’s responsibilities throughout the year, and with many leaders in one spot, it was great to really give club members opportunities to select different types of events to lead. We had ideas for more family fun activities, doing more couples’ nights, ways to reach out to potential members, and even a wider variety of MoMs days/nights out. We also were able to get two educational workshops planned for this year, and even decided to bring back the club’s monthly newsletter from a years-long hiatus!

Not only did this allow us to create Save-the-Date graphics for our events, but it also distributes the workload more than in the past and gives newer members more to look forward to and try to join! Plus, being able to focus regular board meetings more on long-term projects and larger goals rather than brainstorming what to do for the next general meeting is a wonderful thing!

oh, and the first couples’ night after this meeting? A successful night of ax-throwing!

ax throwing

National Convention 2019: The Business

Note: last week, a post about the sightseeing and other fun during the Convention was posted. Both reports were written by delegate Amy K. Bredemeyer.

Let me preface this report by saying that I love talking business, going to meetings, learning new ways of doing things, consulting with others confronting the same struggles, and just talking to people in general. So, I was pleased as punch that the Multiples of America convention would give me the opportunity to do each of those things and more. Below are highlights from the days spent in Alexandria, VA. Space Coast MoM members can view the entire report through our shared Google Drive.

First up in my schedule was the First-Time Attendees workshop. Most of the board was in attendance, and they introduced themselves and shared about the type of things their departments do. The dozen or so first-timers went around the room and shared their names and where they were from, and then a prize was given to the person with the youngest multiples – it was me, but not by much!

Thursday morning kicked off with the topic I was most anticipating prior to the convention: Club Networking. The format of the session had every attendee (there were probably 50 or so) state something their club was doing well, and something that needs improvement. I was very intrigued by how different all of the situations were across the country. The most popular things clubs found they were doing well included consignment sales, mothers of newborns support, and friendships being built. The top things that needed improvement were struggles to get more people into leadership roles and the attendance at general meetings, two areas that our club also has been trying to improve. I specifically picked up some innovative ideas for fundraising and holiday parties, so come to a board and planning meeting soon to hear more!

Shortly after the local networking event was the State Share Shop, which was essentially the same thing but for the state level instead of the local level. This time, attendees simply stated their number one concern. The answers were mostly variants of: how to get local clubs to join state, how to get money to host conventions, and what benefits should be offered. As I also sit on the Florida board, I look forward to chatting in more detail about these issues and what’s going on across the nation with that group.

One of the starkest differences between the state convention and the national convention was the business meeting/general session. At state, it’s about 3.5-4 hours in one go. At national, it’s slated for 9 hours over three days and MANY of the women I spoke with throughout the weekend told stories of the huge overages that have taken place in years past. The first day was a widespread agenda, with the credentials report being read, the standing rules approved, amendments to the convention program being suggested, approval of last year’s minutes, and recognition of national workers, new member clubs, and members of the year. After that, there was a cute skit to remind everyone there was still time to volunteer, then the presentation of the slate – despite the fact that it was a single slate, each nominee still gave a speech, so it was very intriguing to hear more from each of those ladies.

Following that session was a detailed look and frank discussion of the budget and bylaws. Nothing was incredibly shocking – the national group has taken a larger loss than expected in projected membership, resulting in less and less money… the same thing that has been happening around the country on smaller scales with local groups. As an example, over 600 members attended the 1997 MOA Convention, compared to the 162 at the 2019 MOA Convention, and both of those numbers reflected 1-2% of the overall membership at those respective times.

MOA 2019 attendees

Friday morning began Round Two of the general session, and representatives from the Mid-Atlantic Twins Registry talked a bit about the health-based research studies that they help connect candidates for. Next, there were nominations for the next nominating committee, which almost had to go to a vote but one person deferred to being an alternate. After a fifteen-minute recess, the annual report was presented, which I found to be very enlightening, as each department had information to share. There was discussion about the number of clubs joining for the first time being steady, the four themes for The Notebook‘s issues this year, reports on the innovations being tried in various areas, information on the scholarship recipients and the EDGE grant recipient clubs, and celebrations of clubs hitting milestone anniversaries. I found it particularly interesting that the parliamentarian was contacted 183 times this year for help with bylaws, officer performance, potential legal issues, and other liability questions. Her biggest job, however, is really making sure that we reach quorum at the conventions, which is a fact I had not known. The finalist cities for the 2020 convention (the organization’s 60th!) are New Orleans, Raleigh, or a Carnival Cruise – the location will be finalized and published in October.

The recognition luncheon was next, and I was thrilled to have delightful tablemates to get to know better. That afternoon there were back-to-back workshop opportunities, and I attended one on writing and publishing your own book, and another about surviving and thriving with preemies. The first one was more self-interest, but the second one I chose to help gather more resources for our club’s support of preemies. Lily’s Hope was founded in 2013 and supports families in the NICU through packages of hope for parents and siblings of NICU patients. 1500 families have been helped so far, and although they are partnered with several mid-atlantic hospitals, they do ship nationwide, so this is an excellent resource that our club will be able to share with member families who might be in need.

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Next up was the MoM’s Mall – an opportunity for both member clubs and outside vendors to showcase their wares and do some fundraising. For Space Coast MoMs, I brought koozies that we had leftover from selling at our last state convention. Others around me sold convention discs, bandanna bags, wine stoppers, tumblers, and jewelry.

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Saturday morning began with the final round of General Session, and it was one to remember! After a guest speaker from the Fetal Health Foundation, the board appointments were officially made before new business began. I was able to see all of the steps in Robert’s Rules in action when a motion was made that was highly debated and came down to a verbal count of votes! Then, after noting two scholarship donors, two members led the room in an annual tradition of singing a song where a new verse is written each year. Suggestions then started being made as to ways to improve the organization, including raising dues and providing a live video feed of parts of the annual business meetings.

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The Saturday luncheon was a highlight of the weekend, thanks to both the keynote speaker as well as the cute theme – First Ladies! Attendees were invited to don accessories as First Ladies would, though myself and several others dashed upstairs for full costume changes for the meal. (as a stay-at-home mom, I very much enjoyed the many outfits I was able to pack and wear throughout the week and made every effort to have the perfect ensemble for each!) As we entered, we were given slips of paper with the names of Former First Ladies… except the tables showed photos of the women so if you drew one with whom you were not very familiar, you wandered about a bit and asked around to find your place. It was all in good fun, and there were fun facts at each table about the women as well. The keynote speaker was Dara Lovitz, who has done a qualitative study in multiples and emotional behavior. Her focus was on the five most surprising things that multiples will tell you, and although I will not name them here, suffice it to say that my eyes did indeed fill with tears during the speech, and I was indeed surprised by four of the five points. Quite a few in the room were jotting notes, too, and I think many left with a sense of duty to “do better” for our multiples.

first ladies luncheon

The one and only event I skipped was the Memorial Service, but I heard the choir did a lovely job.

The next workshop was with Heather Karpinsky, inventor of a twin feeding set. She talked about how her invention was born out of necessity, the steps involved to start manufacturing her product, how she has found various business mentors, and then she gave tips on how to use your passion and your dream to become an entrepreneur. I found her to be very friendly and open, which was handy because I asked the majority of the questions.

The final event of the convention was the installation banquet, and members walked through a hall of the club’s Past Presidents on the way in – beautiful sentiment!

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I again found myself at a table of wonderful MoMs, and had a fantastic time (and a superb seat to hear the very moving speech by the new President).  I greatly look forward to serving under her on the Research Committee – that’s right, I took the next step in this fabulous organization!

I am grateful for the opportunity to have attended the 2019 MOA Convention as a delegate for Space Coast MoMs, and I am thankful for the great conversations I had with so many MoMs there. I look forward to the 60th annual convention next year with great anticipation, and with fingers crossed that I will entice others in my local club to attend, too.

National Convention 2019: The Fun

Note: a report on the business of the 59th Multiples of America Convention will be posted following its presentation at the SCMoM general meeting on Thursday, August 15th. Both reports were written by delegate Amy K. Bredemeyer.

Flying into Reagan and getting to the convention hotel was very straightforward, even with buses substituting for the metro. That was only the first of several reasons why it was a fantastic location for the convention – other highlights included being a 7-minute Uber from the waterfront, a block or two from the (free!) trolley stop, a wonderful free breakfast including made-to-order omelets, an included happy hour, and spacious rooms giving a wonderful sleeping environment. I flew in Tuesday afternoon, and after unpacking headed off for some adventure. 

I took the King Street Trolley down to the waterfront, spent an hour touring the Torpedo Factory Art Center (even witnessing some of the artisans working), then hopped on the “baseball boat” for a forty-minute cruise up the Potomac to the Nationals Stadium. Being a huge fan of live baseball, I had a great time, despite being alone. I used the app to pick out what I wanted to eat, headed straight there after getting through the strict security check, and was in my seat just a skosh after the first pitch. The game had peaks and valleys (well, I mean, the opponent was the Rockies, after all), but the bottom of the seventh was particularly exciting, with several great plays and even the completion of a “cycle” for Turner. [if you didn’t know, a cycle happens when a player hits a single, double, triple, and homerun in the same game, but not necessarily in that order.]

Wednesday morning, I was up bright and early to join in on a convention-arranged tour to Mount Vernon. I was fortunate enough to run into a few Florida MoMs I know from our state convention, and I enjoyed spending the time with them as we learned about Washington’s family life, careers, and saw various items that he owned (including his infamous dentures!). The lunch served at the Mount Vernon Inn was very good, and the cherry pie following the meal was perfection. Later that night, following the Opening Ceremonies, was a delightfully delicious dessert spread. Shortly after that was a rousing game of Family Feud! I had joined a team several weeks earlier and we ended up playing in the first of seven rounds. It was definitely tougher to come up with the “popular responses” to the questions, but I’m also not a regular viewer of the program. Still, it was fun to hear the answers everyone came up with all night!

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There was a window of time in the late morning/early afternoon on Thursday, so I went over to a little place called Meggrolls, which is known for their unusual concoctions cooked in eggrolls. I tried the chicken parm and the chorizo, and agreed both were fame-worthy! Next, I walked on over to the National Inventors Hall of Fame, which is at the US Patent Office. It only took about an hour to go through, but it’s free and definitely worth it.

Thursday night was a water taxi tour, which I hadn’t originally planned on doing, but decided to join after my other plans were falling apart. I wasn’t in love with the experience (probably because I’ve done a nighttime walking tour of the monuments before), but had a tasty dinner beforehand at Kissou, and some yummy ice cream from The Creamery immediately following – did you know that Alexandria is the Ice Cream Cone Capital of the United States?

Friday’s fun came at the end of the night, with a party themed, “Red, White, and Blue!” There were a plethora of different interpretations of the best way to dress for that, which was good because some of the colorful wigs and loud outfits definitely balanced out my All-American, girl-next-door, fully-pleated dress, haha! The dance competition was also particularly fun to watch, and the snacks available balanced the activity well. Light-up bracelets with themed flower petals on them were available, and the DJ played a great variety of music to please the crowd.

My flight Sunday wasn’t until 2pm, so I walked over to visit the George Washington Masonic National Memorial after breakfast. This one wasn’t free, but it has elevators that travel on an incline and some fabulous history and beautiful architecture (with most of a floor dedicated to viewing the architecture of masonic temples around the country, actually). I timed my visit to coincide with a docent-led tour, allowing for not just informative descriptions but also access to additional floors than are otherwise available. The views from the top were particularly lovely, and I greatly enjoyed the costumes on display as well.

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I was happy to have so many exciting activities to balance out the business of the convention, but look forward to sharing highlights about that part of the trip next!

Reviewing Our 2018-2019 Year

Space Coast Mothers of Multiples thrived during its 2018-2019 membership year! We re-joined Multiples of America and have increased our group’s visibility measurably through that. We participated in National Multiple Birth Awareness Month with a social media campaign. We secured partnerships with seven local businesses. We had a fantastic turnout of 16 at the Florida Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs’ annual convention. (and we’re hosting it in here in Cocoa Beach in October this year!)

convention 2019 slogan picture

A total of 64 events were hosted, including 23 playdates, 11 planning meetings, 9 moms-on-the-town events, 7 general meetings, 5 family events, 5 special events, 3 educational meetings, and 1 event just for the dads (six of them went out for brunch!).

What types of things did we do at all of these events? Well, a wide variety, considering our members span a large geographic area and have many different interests!

The creative MoMs enjoyed painting at Personalized Peach, the active MoMs tried bouldering at Adventure HQ, the foodie MoMs enjoyed Bruster’s and Melting Pot, MoMs looking for something different had fun at Drag Queen BINGO, and our largest turnout was for a day at the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival! bouldering 3.28.1965864018_10113847117108163_6037023636328546304_o
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Our general meeting themes had some low-key board game or card game nights, two crafts, and a Mexican Riviera potluck (we seem to do tacos once a year!). Our educational topics featured decluttering and organizing, a roundtable on savings tips, and a pair of photographers helping us learn how to take better family photos.

Our special events included our second year of doing an afternoon tea for Mother’s Day and mini-golfing as a couples’ night. Our annual MoMs-only holiday party changed it up a bit by adding the rule that all gifts for our white elephant exchange must fit in a pair of socks! It was a hilariously fun time seeing everything unwrapped. We also expanded our Installation Dinner to include recognition of first-year members, milestone members, and outstanding volunteers.
Screenshot 2019-06-26 09.39.09tea party 2019

Family events included a Back-to-School picnic at the beach, a holiday picnic with crafts and cookie decorating, a Spring picnic with an egg hunt, a group trip to Partin Ranch, and also a privately-booked theater to see Toy Story 4!
summer 2018 picnic45736054_10112697373608353_5742453368756895744_o48189708_10161465387375495_2231422560392708096_oSCMOM Spring Picnic 2019ts4

And then there were all those playdates… that is the NUMBER ONE thing our members want from the group, so we tried a whole bunch of different things this year, including publishing a four-month calendar to help busy MoMs better plan their summers! Some of the best-attended included LaPorte Farms, Morgan’s Place, Rain or Shine, Riverwalk Nature Center, Pony Express, and strawberry-picking at Wichmann Farms. Additionally, we visited various splash pads around town, many playgrounds, YuJump, and the zoo. We also tried doing kids’ crafts at playdates and look forward to increasing those in the upcoming year.

We’re gearing up for another incredible year as well! The board and chairs will be spending an upcoming Saturday working on prepping this to be a fantastic year, but even now we already have 20 events on the books for the 2019-2020 year and we’re less than three weeks into it!

Recognition & Installation Dinner 2019

installation 2019 picLast night, Space Coast Mothers of Multiples installed their new Executive Board! For their 2019-2020 membership year, the  positions will be held by President Arayna Klenke,  1st Vice President Amy Bredemeyer, 2nd Vice President Carrie Howell, Secretary Maria Torsney, and Treasurer Amy Baehl.
Installation 2019bWe celebrated with an Italian dinner at Baci in Rockledge, with 15 members attending. In addition to installing the new officers, we also spent the evening reviewing our 2018-2019 year, including recognizing first-year members, Milestone Members (those who have been in the group 5 or more years), outstanding volunteers, and our Light in Shining Armor. We did not remember to get a group photo of the Milestone Members, but did capture the one first-year member who was in attendance.
installation first year
President Klenke also appointed the members to the following positions: Elizabeth Tynes (Library), Amanda English (Stork), Dana Kellgren (Playdates, Social Media), Maria Torsney (Ways and Means, FOMOTC Representative), and Amy Bredemeyer (Website and Archives, MOA Representative). She also co-appointed Amanda English and Teresa Nick as Sunshine. Additionally, she appointed a rotating chair through the Party Planning committee of Amy Bredemeyer, Teresa Nick, Carrie Howell, and Amy Baehl. Screenshot 2019-06-26 09.39.09The next board meeting will be Thursday, July 11th, and all members are welcome to come and throw out ideas, weigh in on decisions, and help with planning upcoming events. The chair positions for Publicity as well as Education and Programming remain vacant at this time, so if you would like to become more involved, please reach out!installation cake 2019

2019 Celebration of Motherhood Tea

After learning that our Afternoon Tea last May at House of Pastel in downtown Melbourne was our highest-rated event of the year, the Executive Board knew that we wanted to try it again. As the size of the tea shoppe has grown in the past twelve months, we were able to extend the event to our friends and families as well this time!
tea party 2019We had a delightful afternoon chatting and sipping tea, and a hot topic was just how delicious the food was – especially the newer items like miniature quiches, palmiers, and brioche sandwiches!
tea party 2019 food
Lilly, the owner of the shoppe, was a fabulous hostess again this year, keeping our teacups refreshed and answering questions about her delicacies. It was a sweet afternoon to celebrate motherhood.

Happy 36th Birthday!

Space Coast Mothers of Multiples was founded on this day in 1983. To mark the occasion, the club created an infographic that was emailed to all current, former, and honorary members whose email addresses remain on file. Every group has its ups and downs, but the organization is proud of where they are now and where they’re going!

SCMoM Infographic 36

#AwarenessMultiplied & Spring Picnic

April is National Multiple Birth Awareness Month, and, across the country, local clubs celebrated in many ways. Some held events for the public. Some distributed information in public areas. One even made a Facebook profile frame for members to use. Space Coast Mothers of Multiples chose to do a social media campaign across whichever platforms members use most commonly. All month, members are encouraged to post stories, pictures, or facts about life with multiples, including the hashtags #AwarenessMultiplied and #scmom.

It is an interesting experiment – so many different tales are told, and the pictures being posted are priceless. About a dozen of our members took advantage of this opportunity to share more with friends and family about what it’s like to be a mother of multiples, an experience that not many have had. It also led to an increase in inquiries about our group, and we’re happy to report an exciting number of trial and honorary members are joining!
SCMOM Spring Picnic 2019
Space Coast Mothers of Multiples also put together a lovely gathering for our families to celebrate the arrival of spring. We had a picnic lunch and an egg hunt, plus enjoyed one another’s company while the kids played on the playground or with bubbles (always a hit!), hula hoops, sports balls, and more.

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A Group Date Night

If you don’t have kids, you might never have thought about just how quickly a night out can add up. From paying attention to the length of a movie when budgeting for a sitter to weighing out the benefits of using valet parking to get in and out of a venue more quickly, the details in planning can even be exhausting. When you have two or more children (especially if they’re young!), you also constantly risk the last-minute illness canceling your plans.

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That said, Space Coast Mothers of Multiples celebrated their annual Couples Night in February. The past few have been dinner and wine/painting, but this year they shook it up a little and went mini-golfing. Not regular mini-golf, either… the course they chose offered beer and wine (plus wine-based frozen cocktails!), complete with on-course delivery for refills!

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A fun time was had by MoMs and spouses alike, both on the course and at the bar! It may be tough to get out, but it’s not tough to make memories with those sharing this journey of parenting multiples.