Richmond has such a diverse population, which is one of the things that drew me to this city, and I really think anyone can find a community here. However, I do often hear a certain group of people saying that they feel a little lost and lonely: moms of children with special needs.
Let me back up and explain my connection here. Almost four years ago, I entered into the absolute best community that I never thought I would want to be apart of when my unborn daughter was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. My daughter ,Charlotte, is my absolute joy and I wouldn't change a single chromosome even if I could, but honestly I didn't always feel that way. Finding out that your child has a diagnosis of any kind is the most lonely feeling in the world . When you have a child with different abilities, it can be hard to relate to moms of typically developing kids. Instead of talking about milestones and cute little outfits, a lot of your conversations are filled with what therapists your child is seeing or your recent hospitalization( as well as cute outfits and milestones). This is why you have to find your tribe, people who GET IT. Getting involved in the local Down Syndrome Association was the absolute best thing for my family. It's given me a community of parents who can give me medical or parenting advice as well as just plain old support. For that reason, I wanted to share some resources so that one day if it's you or a friend getting that phone call, you will know that you are not alone.
Southside Richmond, Va Special Needs Family Resources
RVA Mama Warriors
Autism Society Central Virginia
Project: Just Like You
Down Syndrome Association of Greater Richmond
The Greater Richmond ARC
JP Jumper's Foundation
"You are now in a secret world. You'll see things you never imagined: ignorance, rudeness, and discrimination. But you'll also witness so many everyday miracles, and you'll know it. You won't think a milestone is just a milestone, you'll know it's a miracle. You'll treasure things most people wouldn't even think twice about. You'll become an advocate, educator, a specialist, a therapist, but most of all, you'll be a parent to the most wonderful child."
I tried my very first hot class and I’m still here to tell the tale! Let me preface my experience by telling you that I am not a person that does well in heat, I’m just not. I DREAD the month of August every year. I feel like I can’t breathe, I think I’ll die if it gets hotter than 95 degrees. I’m not dramatic AT ALL. So, when The Hot Yoga Barre invited me to come take a class, I was nervous, but I’m not one to back down from a challenge.
You are probably thinking, as I did, that a hot studio just turns up the heat. Well, some do, but not The Hot Yoga Barre. They have special Far Infrared Radiant Heating panels to ensure that they aren’t just blasting hot germs everywhere. They also have a specially designed hygienic flooring. This studio is top notch.
I love small fitness studios. They feel so cozy and unintimidating. We have all walked into a large gym with people that look like they should be in fitness magazines and thought,” What on earth am I doing here???”. The Hot Yoga Barre offers that small, unintimidating feel that makes it so great for us newbies. As soon you open the door into the studio you feel the difference- you feel the warmth, but it isn’t an overwhelming heat. All the regulars around were going through everything like pros, but I, with no previous hot studio experience, did have to take a few breaks. Let’s talk about the sweat. You sweat and sweat EVERYWHERE, but it doesn’t bother you because everyone else looks just like you. Many pulses and tucks later, I made it through the hour and one day later I am still feeling it, which I love. Whether it was from the heat or trying something new, I left feeling so invigorated. I also want to point out that they are right next to Duck Donuts and since you burn on average 600-1200 calories per class, you won’t feel as bad indulging (or at least I didn’t).
Per The Hot Yoga Barre, you should come to class well hydrated and bring a water bottle with you. If its your first time taking a hot class, you may get a little dizzy or light headed, and this is normal. They encourage you to just lie down on your mat or go into child’s pose until you feel better. Also, you should bring a towel because you will NEED it.
It was definitely a fun, different experience for me and I encourage everyone to try it out. They offer several different formats including Barre, Yoga, and even a HIIT class. To learn more head to www.thehotyogabarre.com.
The Hot Yoga Barre
Cords of Steel RVA- Lisa & Cory Moran
Waxing Poetic Jewelry- Mary Friedman
Beautycounter- Nina Hodge
Rodan+Fields- Wendy Vokac,Paula Yelverton,Missy Hudgens
Usborne Books- Rachael Catterton
Our spotlight non-profit this month is Project: Just Like You, whose mission is to give a positive voice to those with special needs. Project: Just Like You is very near and dear to my heart. As many of you know, my daughter has Down Syndrome and because of trailblazers like Molly Korte, the founder, our journey is so much easier than those 20-30 years ago. I'm so happy to share Molly Korte's own words about Project: Just Like You :
“There is no greater power on this earth than story.” --Libba Bray, author
Our goal and mission is to change the world, society, and mindframe by sharing people’s stories. Cultures and societies are SHAPED by the human experiences through storytelling. Each human life has a valuable story to share. We are connected to others through stories in the human race. No story should go unnoticed or unread because each life and each story is special and holds weight.
Those with disabilities are often gone unheard and unnoticed. Yet, it is through sharing their stories, we find common ground. We begin to see these individuals as dignified human beings worthy of respect, friendship, and love. Project: Just Like You aims to share these stories to shape humanity. Our goal is to become world-class story tellers.
Project: Just Like You is a nonprofit that seeks to raise awareness of inclusion through world-class storytelling. Storytelling is the most essential part of advocacy. When people’s stories are heard, it changes the way a society looks at the individual. I began Project: Just Like You because of my son Jacob. I wanted the world to see him the way I do, as a normal and happy toddler. Because in so many ways, Jacob is just like anyone else his age. He plays with trucks and cars, wrestles with his sisters, likes to be read to, and loves to laugh. These are the attributes I want others to see in Jacob. This is my son. Jacob wants to have friends and playmates. He may not be able to express it like other children, but he has the same desires, hopes, and dreams.
In 2019, we have several projects planned, which include film and art. We seek sponsors and collaborators for these projects to expand the message of Project: Just Like You into different realms.
We also plan on expanding the reach of our third annual RVA Different Abilities Day, held on December 3, which the United Nations declared as “International Day of Persons with Disabilities” (and coincidentally my son Jacob’s birthday.) For the past two years, RVA Different Abilities Day has been held at the Children’s Museum of Richmond. The event’s programming includes guest speakers, food, entertainment, inclusive play for children of all abilities, and vendors in the disability support industry. We make the event free to the public.
We are in early-stage talks with a film creator to fashion a documentary to showcase children with disabilities and how they live in different parts of the world to raise a global awareness of people with disabilities and inclusion within culture.
Project: Just Like You also produces a video podcast called “Movement Monday,” where we interview people making a difference in the Disability community. Each show is open to the live audience to ask questions of our guests. The production is done professionally and requires a small negotiated fee per episode, but we have no means to promote the series or expand upon our base of our 27 live interviews already produced.
We have so many different avenues we want to explore to share stories on a global scale, all of which support our mission to promote inclusion, particularly for children with special needs. There is so much work to be done! And until every single person is recognized and respected for being the amazing individual they are, we will continue to share stories in new and various ways.
Thank you for your support and for helping us build a world of respect, kindness, and inclusion.
--- Molly McMunn Korte is a Richmond-area mother of 3 and advocate of people with disabilities. She is a graduate of Partners in Policy Making and one of Richmond Magazine’s 2018 “Daring Women.” Molly founded Project: Just Like You in 2016 to promote inclusion through the power of storytelling. Visit projectjustlikeyou.org to learn more or email Molly at email@example.com
Here is our 2018 RVA Shop Local GIft Guide! As you can tell, everything is an experience. I don't know about you, but my life and house is overrun with THINGS,but I, like everyone else, always treasure a fun experience so I wanted to help you gift happy memories. Happy Shopping!
For The Women In Your Life
1. Sugar and Hive Beauty Bar
.2. Vitality Float Spa
3. Fighting Gravity Fitness
4. River City Food Tours
For The Men in Your Life
1. Colonial Shooting Range
2. The Circuit Arcade Bar
3. Breakout Games
4. Richmond Funny Bone
For The Little Ones
1. Family pass to The Children's Museum
2. Melody Magic Music Studio
3. Romp n Roll
4. Pump It Up
For The Older Kids
1. Peak Experiences
3. Treetop Zoofari Zipline and Adventure Park
4. Spatacular Parties
Christmas is upon us! I often think about how lucky I feel to live in such a cool area where there are so many fun things to do year round, but Christmas time is where I think Richmond really shines. I've made a list of all the things that you should absolutely not miss this year. Throw those gifts into some gift bags and go out and be merry!
1. AR Workshop
There is absolutely something therapeutic about creating something beautiful. I made a Christmas sign here a few weeks ago and it really put me into the spirit. To find a workshop, visit www.arworkshop.com/richmond/
2.Carriage Rides at Stony Point
While you are in Stony Point, stop by for a horse drawn carriage ride. They are FREE and what on earth makes you feel more Christmas-y than riding in a one horse open sleigh, over the hills we go.... Alright so it won't be a sleigh, but still.
3. The Grand Illumination at The James Center
This Friday, November 30th come check out the Grand Illumination at The James Center from 5:50-7:00 pm. There will be different characters walking around the kids and hot cocoa.
4. Richmond's Tacky Light Tour
The Tacky Light Tour. If you have never done it, you need to.Like tonight. You can make your own list and do it yourself or go through a limo service to take you through Richmond's tackiest (but coolest) houses. For a list of the houses and info on limo services check out www.richmond.com/holiday/tacky-lights/.
5.Maymont Holiday Tours
Take a tour of the Maymont Mansion all decked out in holiday decor.Warning: you may instantly feel underwhelmed when you get home.
6. Christmas Town
Alright, so I know Busch Gardens isn't in Richmond, but it's only an hour or less away and it is amazing! There isn't an inch that is not covered in lights and they have great shows.
7. The Jefferson Hotel. Filled with Christmas trees, poinsettas, and lights, the hotel is a sight to see during the Christmas season. They also have musical performances coming in throughout the next month and you have to check out the Gingerbread display.
8. Ice Skating
What is more fun than falling on your butt on cold ice??? Nothing! We have a couple of great outdoor rinks. For the West Enders, head on over to Short Pump( http://www.westbroadvillageicerink.com/), if you are in the Downtown area check out RVA on Ice (https://www.facebook.com/RVAOnIce/), and last but not least there is a rink at Stony Point mall (https://bit.ly/2r8cCJB) so you can go have fun and get some shopping done!
9. Visit Ol' Saint Nick
My family loves the Children's Museum of Richmond. They have so many cute activities for the kids with Santa- Sunrise with Santa, Sunset with Santa, The Fawn Shop, etc. They also offer Sensitive Santa for our kiddos who cannot do the long lines, bring lights, and noises that come with your typical Santa visit. As a special needs mom, being able to take my kiddo to do this means the world to me.
I mostly hope that you enjoy this wonderful time with your family and remember the reason for the season!
Thank you to everyone who joined us at our relaunch event on November 13th at The Wine Loft. I had such a great time getting to meet you all ! We had some really fun vendors and a great photo booth, where ladies got to take some fun pictures all night.
The Wine Loft is so cozy and inviting and makes for a great relaxed evening. Everyone enjoyed all of their wine options and great appetizers. The staff is also super accommodating and friendly.
This was my first event with The Housewives in The City and the community has been so amazing and receptive. I loved watching everyone have fun and meet new people, while discovering some great businesses. I am looking forward to the next event on December 12th at Hardywood Brewery. For more information, please check out bit.ly/2Kbzhx9.
Rodan+Fields with Wendy, Paula, and Missy
Websites: www.wvokac6.myranf.com, www.paulay.myrandf.com,
Created by Dermatologists, Rodan+Fields is well loved and well known by everyone as a skincare line with something for everyone. They also have regimen that's address specific concerns- acne, wrinkles, dullness, and redness.They also have the extremely popular Lash Boost serum that is known to dramatically increase the length and fullness of your eyelashes.
Dogwood Bluepearl Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center
Dogwood Bluepearl is a full service veterinary hospital in Richmond. They offer specialized veterinary services such as chemotherapy, dialysis, cataract removals, and knee and back surgeries. They also have an emergency department for those unforeseeable events that happen. If your furry family members has any chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or heart failure, these can also be managed her. Blue Pearl truly is a one stop shop for your pet!
Shannon Williams with Deep Roots Salon/ A Laura D's Salon
Make appointments at: (804)559-4247
Deep Roots Salon is a beautiful salon with a great spa like atmosphere. They offer hair services, waxing, and eyelash care (extensions and lifts). You can refer back to my blog post about my experience getting an eyelash lift with Shannon to learn more about that process, but rest assured- I LOVE IT and will continue going back to them.
My Nourishing Kitchen
My Nourishing Kitchen believes in the power of healthy foods. They offer meal prep workshops where you come in and are led through meal prepping multiple meals for your family for the upcoming week. All of the food and necessary tools are provided, you simply show up and have a great time cooking and relaxing! All meals are plant based and allergy friendly!
Beautycounter with Nina Hodge
Beautycounter believes in providing products that you can use without fear! They provide skin care and makeup lines without all of the scary ingredients. They have something for everyone in the family- you, your husband, and even the baby.
Vitality Float Spa
Relaxation at its best! Located in The Fan, Vitality Float Spa offers many different services- float therapy, massages, herbal foot floats, Reiki, infrared sauna, prenatal massages, and reflexology. The staff could not be more friendly or more knowledgeable. Just head in, get some herbal tea, and float your cares away!
F45 Training will be coming to the Richmond area next month and you are going to want to try them out! They are a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) functional group training program. According to their website, "This combination of interval, cardiovascular and strength training has been proven to be the most effective workout method for burning fat and building lean muscle." Definitely a good thing to try post Thanksgiving!
Hott Shotz Photo Booths
I simply cannot say enough good things about Hott Shotz Photo Booths. I have seen a lot of photo booths at wedding, events, and birthdays, but they have never been as cool as the one that was at our event! I think pretty much every guest took several pictures. Not only do they have photo booths, but they also have outdoor movie screen packages to make for the perfect summer party.
Our Featured Charity
The James House
The James House offers help to those affected by domestic violence, sexual violence, and stalking in the Greater Tri-Cities region of Virginia. Some of the options that they provide include safety planning, emergency shelter, support groups, children's programs, and case management.
Allison Bell Photography
Allison Bell is known for her amazing wedding pictures, but also offers photography services for all of those moments that you want captured. She was such a pleasure to work with! Please check out her page for more info on contacting her for your photography needs!
Looking forward to seeing you all next month!
Let me start off by saying that I am not typically a person that relaxes easily or well. My idea of me time is pinteresting gluten free recipes for my kids while watching TV and folding clothes. When I found out that I was going to do a one hour float therapy session at Vitality Float Spa, I was actually stressed out by the thought of sitting completely still for one hour- who would do all the things??? Then, I started googling and read that some people hallucinate during the experience... Great. I'll be floating naked and seeing/hearing things that aren't there.
With all of that being said, I did go and instantly felt relaxed as soon as I walked in. The first thing that I saw was a giant, beautiful living wall and then I was greeted by two of the kindest, most calming women, who put up with this nervous nelly asking them about hallucinating in an Epsom salt bath. Spoiler alert, do not worry about it- they explained that the "hallucinations" that some people experience are more like lucid dreams that happen right before falling asleep. I was given this wonderful chamomile tea and led back to my room where they instructed me to put Vaseline on any cuts or scrapes that I might have(to prevent stinging) and gave me ear plugs to protect my ears. I had envisioned sitting in a very small, dark pod with absolutely no sounds in the background, but was so pleasantly surprised to find out that this can be completely what you want/need it to be. Want lights and gentle music in the background? No problem. Want complete darkness and silence? Also no problem. After I had asked pretty much every question I could think, it was time to do or die ….not really, it was just time to get into the freaking water. I sat down in the warm water and instantly starting floating. I realized that I was so nervous that I was tensing up and pulling my shoulders to my ears so I had to talk myself down and remind myself to just breathe and relax. And I did. I occasionally would find my mind wondering to appointments or kids or food and I would stop myself and try to clear my mind. The hour honestly flew by and I reluctantly got out. I felt so completely relaxed and a little glowy when I left. I had some emails to send and errands to run and I realized that as the afternoon went on, I felt very clear minded and a little less tense than usual. I didn't have some insane zen experience where I saw visions or transcended to some other worldly level (thank God), but I did finally take an hour to completely quiet my mind and let go of everything and just float and it really made me realize how important it is to take more time to do that.
So what exactly is float therapy?
A large bath tub or "pod" that is filled with water that is heated to skin temperature and filled with 1000 lbs of Epsom salt, allowing you to float gently on top.
How does floating benefit you?
I can say from experience that being in this space of no distractions allowed my mind to just kind of quiet itself for a bit and have a break, which NEVER happens otherwise. While floating, around 80-90% of neuromuscular activity is decreased- isn't that crazy?!?. It has also been shown to help with chronic pain, anxiety and depression, PTSD, and athletic recovery.
What should you do before your session?
I was told to avoid caffeine for about 3 hours prior to floating. I would also suggest not eating a very heavy meal right before your session.
How often should you do it?
I was told to continue reaping the benefits, you should go at least three times a month.
Although I was a little apprehensive, I thoroughly enjoyed floating and I definitely will be adding this more frequently to my schedule. Vitality Float Spa also offers massage, cupping, Reiki, yoga, and acupuncture- pretty much your one stop shop for relaxation. You can check them out for yourself and make an appointment at www.vitalityfloatspa.com.
It's November 2nd- that day where we magically go from Halloween Town to Christmas as fast as we can rip down our spider web decorations. I'm not mad about it either, I love everything about this time of year- the movies, decorations, family gatherings,etc. But with each passing year as we have had more children and more responsibilities, I have noticed that the holidays feel much less...holiday-y than they used to and more like another job. I hear this from other women all the time; we are all already so busy and run down than when something extra comes along it just about takes us out. I'm putting myself back on my list this Christmas and I'm going to share some ways that you can too.
Keep up (or start) your fitness routine
This is absolutely crucial for me. When you aren't moving your body, you just don't feel your best. Combine that with the high sugar foods that come along with Thanksgiving and Christmas and you just end up feeling sluggish and bleh. So find something active that you love doing and make it a priority everyday. Extra points if it's a group activity, like a class or a team, which has been shown to decrease feelings of depression and anxiety.
Simplify and Delegate
We women can do it all, but we cannot do it ALL well. Try a grocery delivery service, like shop.shipt.com/ and have them arrive right to your doorstep. An even better option would be to order already made healthy meals (gluten and dairy free) through www.dailyjars.com/#mailing-list-module. I used Daily Jars while doing an elimination diet and there is no way I could have done it without them. Another great Richmond option is mynourishingkitchen.com/ . According to their website,"You’ll assemble six (6) whole-food, plant-based, organic, allergen friendly, freezer meals in less than two hours that you and your family will enjoy. Each meal serves 4-6 people, and some of our soups, and stews serve even more. All of this for as little as $4-$5 per serving!".
My husband and I do weekly date nights because we absolutely have to and I encourage you to do so as well. If you aren't married than make sure you are having regular girl's nights. It doesn't have to be expensive, just something that connects you with your loved ones. We went to the new restaurant Perch this week and we seriously left there feeling like cool, carefree twenty somethings and that's definitely NOT us. If you haven't been there, I highly encourage you to check it out( www.perchrva.com/) and you MUST get the bread pudding cake. Everything was amazing from start to finish and the space itself was so serene. Date nights allow us to step out of our crazy, hectic days and just be for an evening.
Let go of the FOMO
Fear of missing out is a real thing and I think that social media only makes it worse. Trust me, I know. There are SO many holiday activities that there is absolutely no way that you can do it all and you have to accept it. Pick just a few of your absolute favorites and ones that you will actually enjoy, not just activities that will produce cute pictures. If you fill up your schedule with events every day, you and your kids are going to end up tired and you will lose the chance to truly enjoy anything.
This time of the year is so special and we only have so many Christmases with our loved ones - I want to be truly present and happy for all of them so I know that I have to take care of myself first. Oh, and I think you can and should decorate as early as you want to so don't judge me when you see my IG pictures of my tree up next week.
I have small children so I don't get out to brunch very often (I often feel quite lucky to eat semi warm pizza standing up), but I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Sedona Taphouse.
My husband went straight for the Southwest Steak Omelette, but I'm a simple girl and can't turn away bready heaven. And yes, that is Nutella smothering my French toast....to.die.for. There really is something for everyone on their menu- from truffle fries to crab cake sliders to omelettes. They also offer a lot of gluten free and vegan options, which I can appreciate as one who has done an elimination diet in the past and realized how hard it can be to dine out with restrictions. Want to meet your girlfriends for a fun brunch? They have a super fun Blood Mary bar as well as over 200 craft beers ( I almost had to leave my husband there).
The restaurant itself is adorable, with barn wood and lots of industrial flavor. There is an outdoor seating area with a fire pit that just screams fall date nights. The atmosphere is honestly just as important to me as the quality of food and I felt very relaxed here. For Sunday brunch, they even have live jazz music. I must say that I'm not typically a huge live music person- it's often too loud and makes it hard to carry on a conversation and to be honest, I'm a chatty Kathy. However, this was not overpowering and just added to this relaxed, but cool vibe.
If you haven't tried them out, I strongly encourage you to do so-you will not be disappointed.
Hi there! I'm Courtney . I am a mom of three ,a group fitness instructor, and a blogger. My favorite thing to do is to explore new fun things in the Richmond area with my family. I look forward to connecting with you through our Girl's Night Out events and social media.