Monday, April 7, 2014

Unstoppable Mom Experience

I think a post is due to sum up the whirlwind adventure of the Unstoppable Mom contest!  To refresh the background information, my aunt's friend saw the contest on TV and suggested I be nominated.  My aunt and cousin got Dave and I's approval and hit the ground running!  Since they live in different cities than we do, they contacted regular volunteers and Leah's therapists to get material for the submission letter.  I have since seen everyone's submission material and it literally brought me to tears.  They were so nice and heartfelt and I couldn't believe everyone noticed all the little things I do and would take the time to write about it.  Also, they made me tired because I really don't think about things I do, I just do them!  You can read the letter here.

Well, that letter got me into the top 100 moms!  They called to tell my cousin and I the news on a Sunday night. The next day I was doing a phone interview with a producer to fact check/make sure I'm a real person/see if I pass on to the next round.  I passed!  Next up was the day of filming.  A small crew (1 camera guy and 1 producer) were flown here 2 days later to film a day in my life.  Eek!  I was so nervous my stomach hurt.  They filmed from 5am (to get me running- embarrassing!) to 8pm and really got a typical day in my life.  They were nice and did not intrude on our routine.  My cousin, Dave, and I were all interviewed separately.  Dave said he "rocked" his interview.  I suffered through mine.  The kids were curious about the cameras but did really well that day.  The camera hog was definitely Allison. She showed off new words and animal sounds and dance moves we've never seen!  Really, I've never seen her act like she did for that camera.  We had to wait 2 weeks to see if I made the top 15 semi-finalists.  I found out like everyone else- watching it on TV.  

Once named a semi-finalists, the show was calling everyday to set up travel arrangements just in case.  Of course, I had many concerns and questions about bringing our whole crew to NYC.  Dave and I decided then that he and Leah would stay home no matter what.  Her doctors agreed that was best as well.  3 days after being named a semi-finalist, the finalists were announced on air.  My surprise was spoiled by the producers calling me too early (they forgot I was in a different time zone), but it was still exciting!!  I won't lie, that was an intense day.  I thought my phone was going to explode with the texts, calls, emails, etc.  Between the notifications and trying to negotiate the trip and set up fill in help, I was so overwhelmed.  That night my mom and I went out to find  matching outfits for the kids (as requested by the show) and to go "shop" through my friend's closet for my TV wardrobe.  Luckily, both ventures were successful!

I had one day to pack and prep (which I insisted on) then my mom and I were off to NYC.  I will say it was fun to have drivers pick us up and not worry about making any arrangements.  We got to our hotel at 11pm Sunday night.  Monday morning we were picked up at 7am and off to the show.  I went to hair and make up (which was AMAZING) and had a quick coaching session.  I was very glad I had the coaching!  I got to practice my whole segment a few times which helped me because I was SO nervous.  My legs were literally shaking.  They kept everyone separate, so I did not get to meet anyone famous- what you saw on TV was what I saw.  The interview was over before I knew it!  As soon as they cut to commercial, we took pictures with the trophy and I was whisked away back to the hotel.  My mom and I had 2 hours of down time, so we walked around Times Square (where we stayed) and grabbed a quick lunch.  Then it was back to Houston! 
I still can't believe this is a real picture!

The Unstoppable Mom Team- they made me look good!
Had to grab a slice during our quick down time
 I had Tuesday to pack up everyone and mentally prepare for the next leg of the adventure.  The mini bus picked us up at 5am Wednesday morning.  "Us" included me, my parents, my cousin Holly, and all the kids except Leah.  The kids traveled in their jammies which was much easier than messing with complete outfits.  I was able to borrow 2 double strollers and use my single umbrella stroller.  The hotel had 4 pack n plays so I only had to bring one of those.  The worst part was the car seats!  Each kid had their own seat on the airplane and required a car seat.  Lugging those things around was awful- between finding a cart to carry them to figuring out how to properly install them on the airplane and buses to storing them in the hotel room-  But, of course we absolutely needed them.  The crews on our Southwest Airlines flights were wonderful!  So helpful.  Actually the passengers were all nice too!  In the Houston airport the kids were easily entertained by watching planes through the windows.  On the flight they weren't that bad- definitely some fussiness off and on throughout the flight, but nothing horrible.  I had packed books and snacks for entertainment.  I had 2 kids in my row and the other adults had one kid plus a brave stranger.  On the way back they were much worse.  The boys cried the entire flight and Caroline got airsick a few times.  A few of the passengers offered to walk them up and down the aisle, but that doesn't work well once the other kids see the one getting walked.  I felt bad for everyone around us, but we all survived.

While the family was in NYC, my cousin Heather (the official submitter) met us there so we did have an adult per child :)  Unfortunately, the weather was awful so we stayed in the hotel the entire time.  But the kids didn't mind!  They loved being in their jammies, looking out the window or mirror, jumping on the bed, sitting in suitcases, and watching TV.  We even had a play date in our room with a family friend who lives in NYC now- so fun!  The hotel room situation was: my cousins in a room and me, my parents, and my kids all in one room.  We had to stack furniture to fit 5 pack n plays.  The kids could see us at all times, so the sleeping was hit-or-miss to put it nicely.    That Friday morning we were picked up bright and early for the show.  I had hair and make up again (yea!!) and we all hung out in the green room where they had plenty of food for us and even a bubble gun for the kids!  I had a chance to meet the other finalists and they were all wonderful!  Honestly some of the nicest people I've ever met.  As with Monday, the actual show part was super quick.  We all went out there and they announced the winner and took some group pictures and it was over.  I was not surprised I did not win, but I was surprised by the consolation prize!  As soon as the show was over we were whisked back to the hotel, had an hour to pack up, then off to the airport.  The NYC airport was trickier to navigate with our massive amount of stuff and harder to find helpful people, but we eventually made it to the gate.  With plenty of time to kill and no good plane viewing windows, we were singing, walking, reading, and snacking until flight time.  Luckily the people around us found us entertaining and even joined in on the kid songs and games :)  And as I mentioned before, it just went downhill once we were on the plane.  Exhaustion definitely set in for all of us.  We were all glad to be back home that night and say we successfully got 5 toddlers to and from NYC!  And now that I have my trophy at home I am officially an Unstoppable Mom :)
Hotel room fun with Caroline

How the kiddos ate in the hotel room

Voting time for the adults and Mickey Mouse time for kids

Leah and Dave watching from home

Me and my real trophy
I would like to end with sincerely thanking everyone who voted and spread the word about the contest.  Overwhelming would be an understatement.  I thought my phone and facebook would just shut down with the amount of traffic on voting day.  I never dreamed so many people would be so supportive of me and my family.  I am one very blessed lady and I have no doubt about that :) 


  1. Congratulations!!! What a neat experience and a well-deserved award! I'm a new reader and am enjoying your blog and adventures. :-)


  2. Congratulations! You are an incredible mom!

  3. Congratulations on making it as far as you did!! Our Bible study definitely thinks you are an UNSTOPPABLE MOM and we pray for you regularly!! The babies are getting bigger and I hope that the days get a bit easier with their don't need a trophy to know you are just need to look back on your calendar and see that you are indeed!!!