Technology with Heart

The power of positive thinking just became a real-time reality thanks to a new app that sends uplifting messages of support to those experiencing a difficult time in their life. Caring Band, created by Woodlands husband and wife team Lindsay and Charley Donaldson, is both a light up wristband and accompanying mobile app that allows anyone going through a challenging time to receive messages of strength and hope. The Caring Band app which launched this summer allows users to pick from a list of carefully preset messages to send to those they care about as often they come across their minds, such as ‘You’re on my mind’; ‘I just prayed for you’ and ‘Cheering you on today’. “The Caring Band app is a place for family and friends to send real-time notifications of love and support,” says Lindsay, co-founder and chief caring officer. “Often when a family member or friend is going through a hard time, you sometimes feel reluctant to reach out as you don’t know what to say. “With Caring Band, it’s done in a way that allows you to brighten their day without having to worry about what to write and without any pressure on the recipient to reply.” The connected wristband can be set to light and/or pulse to notify the band wearer when new messages are received. Using Bluetooth technology, the wristband wirelessly syncs to your smartphone to bring the power of positivity to life. “When you give someone a Caring Band, they will be uplifted each time their wristband lights up knowing that someone is sending positive thoughts and cheering them on,” says Lindsay.

The launch of the Caring Band app comes after the Donaldson’s were moved to do more after seeing several of their friends and family go through difficult times. “Like many others in the same situation, we did as much as we could, but always left wanting to do more, explains Lindsay. “Caring Band is unique in that it is not meant to replace a phone or smartwatch. “Together with the wristband, the app is designed to do one thing and one thing only, to lift the spirits of the person wearing it.”

One such recipient of the Caring Band is 11-year-old Sydney Hunter, who was diagnosed with Sarcoma, a rare type of cancer, in March of this year. Sydney, whose family lives in the Woodlands, is recovering from surgery to remove a golf ball size lump from her leg. Since her devastating diagnosis, Sydney had the opportunity to try out the Caring Band wristband and app. She has had incredible support from people all over the world sending her messages to cheer her on throughout her battle. “It’s amazing, I love it,” says Sydney of Caring Band. “It’s such a blessing to have so many people sending me messages. To think that sometimes people I don’t even know are supporting me is pretty cool.” Some of Sydney’s messages via the Caring Band app that have helped her stay strong are ‘Hugs to you today’, ‘I just prayed for you’ and ‘Thinking of you’. “It’s so heartwarming to know someone somewhere is praying for me at that moment. It’s been so awesome to have that kind of support,” she says. Sydney, who has just entered 6th grade, was thrilled to be able to start the school year with her friends following her latest surgery to remove the tumor this summer. “My friends at school are always nice to me, but since I got the Caring Band, I’ve been really grateful for the extra boost the messages have given me.”

Sydney Hunter

The Caring Band team has been busy distributing a number of prototype bracelets to pilot the product and gauge the initial response. “The feedback we have had so far has been extremely positive,” says Lindsay. “We are receiving wonderful responses both from those wearing the wristband and receiving messages via the app as well as those sending the messages.” Caring Band has also partnered up with a number of local non-profit groups to distribute wristbands and to raise awareness of the product. The Canopy Center, based at Memorial Hermann in the Woodlands, as well as cancer support charity Can Care, and The Tyler Robinson Foundation (founded and managed by members of the band Imagine Dragons), are among the first recipients of Caring Band wristbands. These three charities are involved in supporting cancer survivors, caregivers of survivors and help to enhance the quality of life for those affected by cancer. “We are delighted to be partnering up with these wonderful organizations to spread the Caring Band love,” says Lindsay. The Caring Band app is free to download now on IOS and Android platforms, while the Caring Band wristband will be ready to order in early 2020.

Pre-orders will be taken soon via the website: www.caringband.com. To receive updates and notifications on timings for pre-order, you can follow Caring Band on Instagram and Facebook.

Author: Jennifer Taylor

Jennifer Taylor joins the writing team at Interfaith following a career in journalism and public relations. Originally from Scotland, Jennifer moved to The Woodlands in 2012 having lived and worked in Asia for 5 years. She enjoys running, traveling and spending time with her husband and their two boys.

 

Introducing the Exclusive The Book The Woodlands Wish Guide

The Book The Woodlands is excited to announce that The Wish Guide, a chic, new companion publication of The Book will arrive in mailboxes this year WITH The Book The Woodlands!
The Wish Guide will resemble the beauty and sophistication of The Book with a thick matte cover and pages but in a more petite 7” X 10” size. The Book The Woodlands focuses on the people, businesses, and organizations that make The Woodlands an exceptional community while The Wish Guide will highlight unique local gift, dining and catering offerings available in The Woodlands to help you with your Holiday gift giving and entertaining.

Designed like a high-end department store look-book, the pictorial ads of must-have products and packages, engaging festive articles and community events calendar will make The Wish Guide an irreplaceable resource during the busy Holiday Season. Perfect to peruse again and again and durable enough to withstand sharing with friends, family, and guests. It is sure to find it’s rightful place on your coffee table during the Holidays with The Book TheWoodlands.

The Wish Guide will be direct mailed to area homes in The Woodlands as well as distributed in high-visibility locations throughout the area including Market Street and local hotels, reaching over 100,000 influencers locally.

The goal of The Wish Guide, as with all of the publications of Interfaith, is to raise money to serve our neighbors in need. Last year, with the help of our generous ad partners, Interfaith was able to serve over 8,000 individuals through the Holiday Giving program. “As our community needs rise, we at Interfaith continue to seek ways to build sustainability and grow revenue to provide the programs and services necessary to assist our neighboring families and seniors in crisis,” said Missy Herndon, President & CEO. “Through ad partnerships, businesses market their services and products, and fully fund the publishing of both The Book The Woodlands and now The Wish Guide. In turn, all proceeds of these publications fund Interfaith’s programs and services. We are so grateful to be in a community that cares.”

If you know of a business or event that should be considered for inclusion in The Wish Guide, please contact cmogler@woodlandsinterfaith.org

The Woodlands High School Youths “Summer Swish” in Italy

Four years ago an idea was formed by the assistant coach, David D’Allesandro, to organize a youth basketball tournament in Chieti, Italy. Raised in Chieti since he was 10 years old and then moving to The Woodlands in 2014, David would frequently get asked questions about US basketball and the differences with Italy. “I thought it would be nice for them to see with their own eyes. Bringing the two worlds together – what a better way than sports and teenagers?”

Houston Swish was formed alongside head coach Ferdinand “Yogi” Williams, a ten-year veteran coach from Phoenix, AZ including surrounding Houston areas. The next few months practices were held twice a week at Crossroads Church in Magnolia with AAU tournaments played in between. When asked about their preparation Yogi said, “These young men have displayed tremendous passion, intensity and dedication during the previous 3 months of skills training, conditioning, practices, scrimmages and games to prepare for this trip. No matter the size, athleticism or skill of our opponents these young men play together and execute a winning strategy because they believe in each other.”

On June 13th, the team was en route to Italy and within 24hrs of touching down they were off playing their first game. “This opportunity to travel abroad to Italy and experience basketball in a different environment with different rules, different languages and challenges was a priceless experience. I expected this trip to be a lifetime memory, but it also empowered these young men to overcome adversity, maximize their potential,” said Yogi, who then noted perhaps one of these boys may be inspired to play or coach basketball beyond high school.

Their two weeks abroad included more practices and scrimmages, but there was plenty of relaxing on the beach and exploring the beautiful town of Chieti. Chieti is amongst the ancient of Italian cities, situated in the Abruzzo region, a few kilometers away from the Adriatic Sea with the Majella and Gran Sasso mountains in the background. According to mythological legends, the city was founded in 1181 BC by the Homeric Greek hero Achilles and was named in honor of his mother, Thetis. It was called Theate.

When the captain of the team was asked to share his favorite experience about this trip, Federico D’Allesandro a sophomore at The Woodlands High School responded, “Since we moved to The Woodlands I felt like I belonged to two different and separate worlds. My Italian friends and then my friends from the US. It was amazing to see how quickly and easily these “worlds” merged together though! I was also very happy that there were true connections made between my two groups of friends. I have a feeling these two groups will be seeing each other again.”

Summer Fun for Dads and Grads

Looking for a new and different experience for the Dad or Grad in your life this summer? Check out some of the hidden gems in our area for a new adventure to share with your special someone.

Take Flight- Helicopter Academy– Learn to fly a helicopter at the Helicopter Academy at the Conroe Regional Airport. An introductory flight lesson is $350 and includes an hour of ground instruction and a 30-minute flight. If learning to fly isn’t on your bucket list, try a 30-minute photo tour for two for $300. While you are there enjoy a bite to eat at the Black Walnut Café on the rooftop and watch the planes land and take off. For more information contact Matt Goodwin 602.432.1968, www.thehelicopterschool.com

 

Chef for a Day- TRIS- Experience a master at work. Shadow award-winning Chef Austin Simmons as Chef for the Day at TRIS The Woodlands. A personalized package may include selecting the cuisine and technique you would like to learn, prepping with Chef Austin and then tasting your creation at lunch, followed by a dinner at Cureight that evening. Price varies but starts at $400. For more information, visit www.triswoodlands.com or call 281.203.5641

 

Virtual Reality Lounge- Emergent VR Encounter- For the video game enthusiast, immerse yourself in virtual reality in the high-tech gaming lounge at Emergent VR Encounter. Featuring an expansive game library there is something for everyone. www.emergentvrencounter.com

Burn Some Energy- Texas TreeVentures- The new ropes course nestled in the trees at Rob Fleming Recreation Center in Creekside Park will have you soaring to new heights. The aerial challenge course is surrounded by the George Mitchell Nature Preserve and has adventures for both youths and adults. www.texastreeventures.com

 

Catch Some Air- Hangar 9 Wake Park- Just north of The Woodlands off I-45 is a hidden cable wake park, perfect for beginners to try wakeboarding. Don’t worry, if you are already a seasoned professional they have plenty of jumps and options for you as well. www.hangar9wakepark.com

 

Become a Warrior- Texas Axe Throwing– Yes, axe throwing is a thing, and it is now offered in The Woodlands. Texas Axe Throwing offers 2-hour “axe-periences” with expert Axe Masters available for individuals ages 12 and up. Winners earn the title of Lumber Queen or King. www.texasaxe.com

Father’s Day Fashion Finds

It’s dad’s turn! For Father’s Day I have rounded up my top 5 fashionable gifts to help celebrate the man in your life:

Bombas Tie Die Calf Socks: 4 pack, $45.60
Tie die is a big trend in women’s fashion for 2019, why not carry it over for the men?

Personalized Men’s Braided Bracelet with engraved circular beads: $79.95
Masculine and sentimental. Perfect.

The Greats Royale White Sneakers $179
If the man in your life does not own a pair of white sneakers place this on the top of your gift list. Perfect with jeans, joggers, summer suits, and shorts. This will be the perfect summer staple in his closet.

Cubitts Tortoiseshell “Ampton” sunglasses $165
A celebrity favorite brand, these Wayfarer sunnies are a classic and fashionable year round.

Carl Friedrik Weekend Bag $565
The perfect bag for a few nights away. Duffels are making their mark in the fashion world and this Italian, handmade weekender does not disappoint.

Inspiring Mom Winner

Inspiring Mom Winner Gayle Fisher, founder of Special Need Sibs was nominated by her friend Dawn Candy. Dawn highlighted some of Gayle’s inspiring qualities in her nomination.

“I would like to nominate my friend Gayle Fisher. She is a mom of two beautiful humans. Her son is autistic and Gayle works with him every day to teach him how to experience life and live every day understanding consequences for all behaviors and responses. She is patient, kind and loving and shares her experiences with other moms and families so they know they are not alone.

She inspires me every day watching her raising her children and encouraging other families to be loving, accepting and kind to each other.”

Candy shares that Gayle started a nonprofit in our community specifically for siblings of special needs children to make sure they have the opportunities to enjoy being kids, the opportunity to make new friends and find the support they need to navigate feelings as a sibling of a special needs child.

Gayle Fisher, The Book Inspiring Mom Winner said about being chosen as the winner, “Raising kids who thrive needs the Village, the whole team.  We share our ups and downs, joys and sorrows, victories and challenges. Together. With humor and humility. There really is no other way.”

Thank you to Dawn Candy for your nomination and Gayle Fisher for providing inspiration to The Book The Woodlands readers. Both women will be receiving a gift certificate for Shop at Market Street.

 

Woodlands Franchisee Named Among Top 50 in the US

Woodlands entrepreneur and The Book The Woodlands Ad Partner Mary Beth Motisi is the essence of hard work and integrity having just been named as one of the top 50-franchise owners in the country.

Mary Beth is the owner of the Online Trading Academy (OTA) Houston, and is a shining example of where sheer determination and strength of character can lead you in the business world, having been selected out of thousands of nominees for the esteemed place in the top 50.

The accolade of ‘Franchise Rockstar’, awarded by the Franchise Business Review, is a valued benchmark of success for Mary Beth. “I was surprised and thrilled as it was totally unexpected,” says Mary Beth on the news of her achievement. “It’s very touching to have received that level of respect from my Franchisor.”

Franchise Business Review analyzed over 27,000 franchisee surveys across more than 300 leading franchise brands. Each entrant is given a score based on business excellence, community engagement, and franchise leadership skills. The top 50 are the best of the best in franchising today. “There are so many fantastic success stories out there; it was painful to narrow our list down to just 50 Rockstar Franchisees,” said Michelle Rowan, President of Franchise Business Review.

OTA is the world leader in financial education for investors looking to build life-changing skills designed to aid investments in the financial and real estate markets. Courses are geared toward individual investors or traders, novice or experienced, who want to learn how to use similar tools and trading techniques as the professional traders on Wall Street.

Students as young as 13 up to 92 years of age, learn under the guidance of experienced traders in an interactive classroom setting with extensive online education resources.

“Being a student at OTA changed my life and I wanted to bring that same opportunity to others,” explains Mary Beth. “The beauty of the markets is that there is an equal opportunity for everyone. I have been a Franchisee for 9 years and every year I am amazed at the innovation put forth by this organization to build on our students’ success and network development.”

In October 2018, Mary Beth was the recipient of the highest honor awarded to an OTA team member, the Above and Beyond Award, which is given to network members who make a major contribution to the entire Online Trading Academy business.

Online Trading Academy Chief Operating Officer, Gene Longobardi, hailed Mary Beth as a credit to their entire system. “I am so proud of Mary Beth and all she and her team have accomplished in Houston”, he said. “She knows her students first-hand because she engages regularly with them to support all of their educational needs. It would be hard to imagine a more deserving candidate for this recognition.”

Yet success has not come without trials for Mary Beth. Her life changed drastically at the young age of 14, when her father suffered a stroke and her parents sold their home for a single-story condominium. Mary Beth was forced to mature quickly and made the decision to move into her own apartment upon graduating high school. She began working as a Manager Trainee at McDonald’s when she was 20 years old, which turned out to be the most valuable education she could have ever received. “I worked really, really, really hard,” says Mary Beth. “College could not have compared to the work experiences, and the specialized education McDonald’s provided.”

In 2000 Mary Beth got involved in the stock market. She suffered a big loss in the beginning, so was eager to learn more when she came across Online Trading Academy. After graduating with much success from the OTA program, the VP of Business Development, Ralph Loberger called her and offered her the opportunity of a lifetime.

“We met for lunch and the next thing I knew, I was moving to Texas from Wisconsin as the new owner of the Houston Franchise,” she says. “Moving across the country by myself was an adjustment and starting a new business without the support of your family and friends by your side was very difficult.”

After her many years of hard work and personal development, Mary Beth shares some of her tips for making your business work.

“Someone once asked me ‘what makes you successful’? My reply was “you need five things – good common sense, a strong work ethic, good people skills, high standards, and a good coach. You have to dig deep, learn and master the skills you need and have love and passion for what you do.”

“I am proud of the community and fellowship we have among our staff, students and network,” says Mary Beth. “I not only received the opportunity to build an amazing business, but I also gained a loving family. I love who we are, what we do, and how we do it.”

To learn more about OTA Houston, visit:
www.tradingacademy.com/houston/

Jennifer Taylor joins the writing team at Interfaith following a career in journalism and public relations. Originally from Scotland, Jennifer moved to the Woodlands in 2012 having lived and worked in Asia for 5 years. She enjoys running, traveling and spending time with her husband and their two boys.

 

Inspiring Mom- Jo Anne Johnson

What has been your most challenging part of motherhood?

Especially as your kids grow older, I would say it’s teaching them virtues in failure – allowing them to accept and own consequences for their decisions/actions, yes, but also encouraging them to rise up to their God-given potential, and you only get there by trying.  “The only true failure is when you stop trying,” as my parents would say.  Allowing them to fail is one part of this, but leading by example is the flip side of that coin… They’re always watching, so how do I accept life challenges as an incredible opportunity?  Ultimately, we’re teaching our children to stand on their own two feet with strength and confidence in knowing God made them with special intention and purpose, so “rise up” and make the world a better place.

 

What inspires you as a mom?

I’m inspired by Holiness in others, and am inspired by the reality that, by a divine plan, we were chosen to be mothers for our children… What an awesome responsibility as both Nurturer and Teacher!  I am blessed by great friendships and believe me, I take notes from friends with older kids… They’ve encountered life situations and instilled values where I can see their kids flourishing, and it’s super inspirational.  And not just great testimonies for hard work paying off with college or career opportunities, but awesome examples in volunteerism, stewardship.  If I open my eyes, there are ordinary people doing extraordinary things every day.

 

How do you find time for yourself/spouse/children?

I heard this years ago, and have never forgotten it:  “How do you spell Love?  T-I-M-E.”  A professional business coach also made this sobering point, “Your family deserves what’s best of you, not what’s left of you” when you walk in the door.  That awakened my senses, and inspired me to structure my business so that I am present… I love to escape with my son and do things he wants to do – just mother/son time.  Admittedly, a gun range or video game challenge is not always my cup of tea, but there’s a lot of sharing!  With my daughter, she likes foodie outings, and have done quick overnight trips together – very special.  And hubs… We try to find simple moments like coffee on the back patio before the house wakes up, or a quiet dinner together.  We even took a dance lesson in the last year. 😉  Lastly, self-care… I think many mothers would admit self-care often times comes last, and am reminded of the airplane analogy of putting an oxygen mask over our face first so we can help others around us.  We’re not effective serving others unless we’re taking care of ourselves.  It’s a work in progress.

 

What are your favorite things to do/places to spend time with your children in our community?

I would say one of our favorite things to do as a family is going out to eat together!  What does that say about us?! HA!  We live in a resort-like community, so we’ve enjoyed a lot of fun outings through the years… July Fourth parade is an annual tradition, picnics or concert-going in the park, being a spectator at professional golf tournaments, church socials… Window-shopping around Market Street… Volunteering as a family… So many wonderful venues and memories to create!

 

What advice would you give new moms?

Oh my… I’m not sure I’m qualified to give advice, but would simply say to “be present.”  I look back in the early years of my current career when my kids were young, and it’s a blur. I was inspired to get into a coaching program, which allowed me to implement better systems and structure.  One of the core principles I was coached on included creating a Perfect Calendar.  So, that would be my advice… Make sure your top priorities are on your calendar – time for yourself and time for your family.  Other activities, work commitments, etc, will fall in place around the latter.

 

Jo Anne grew up in Overland Park, Kansas, and attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on a full-ride music scholarship while simultaneously pursuing a professional career as a violinist with The Lincoln Symphony Orchestra among other solo & ensemble outlets. Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance, Jo Anne continued a professional music career while exploring a “daytime” career in Corporate America with a Fortune 500 Company. Within a short period, her tenure in insurance claims included: National Catastrophe claims, Fire/Auto claims, Special Investigation, Attorney Negotiations, and Management. Since 1996 Jo Anne has worked, lived, and played in The Woodlands.  She began her real estate career in 2008 which she has grown into a top-producing team – Jo Anne Johnson Real Estate Group.  Married for over 20 years to Troy, a native Houstonian, whom she met in Denver, CO, on business in the early ‘90s, Jo Anne is also the proud mother of two amazing kids! Between band practices and sports fields, she considers herself the luckiest woman in the world!

 

 

Woodlands Wedding – Jenny & Jon

This local wedding feature spotlights the love, courtship, and marriage of Jennifer (Jenny) Hiser and Jon Bailey. Both transplants to The Woodlands, Jenny, and Jon share a magical story of love and friendship in our community.

Did you grow up/do you live in The Woodlands?
Jenny was born and raised in New Orleans where she lived most of her adult life before moving to the Woodlands in 2012. Jon has been a Houston resident since 1992 before moving to the Woodlands in 2014; he considers himself a Texan though he was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina.

How did you meet?
Although we lived 10 minutes apart, we met online and talked by phone several times before our first date at Crisp in The Woodlands. On that date, the chemistry between us was so obvious that another guest at the restaurant told us, “I want what you two have!” We both privately took that as a “sign” to pay close attention to!

Courtship:
After that prescient beginning came the courtship…a wonderful time of adventure discovering and falling in love with each other. This was done in the context of family and friends, Friday night movies on the couch and Saturday night galas, Astros games, college football games, concerts, parties, and staycations. Trips to Dallas, New Orleans, Napa, Destin, and Colorado showed us how well we worked together as a team. We survived and thrived in the midst of chylothorax (Google it) and wrestled with what makes a successful relationship while waiting out a tornado warning during Hurricane Harvey in a closet. We laughed, cried, worked, and played; we prayed and worshipped; we talked for hours on end, and explored who we are and what we need and want in a partner and spouse. We became best friends.

Proposal:
Jon knew Jenny was a romantic at heart; she subtly let him know she dreamed of a fairytale proposal with Jon on bended knee, ring in hand, in a beautiful private setting – after he had asked her father for her hand in marriage (she’s also a traditionalist!) After Jon spoke to her father (he said, “go ask her mother!”), and her childhood best friend (she’s like a sister), and had purchased the ring, he whisked her away on a surprise “vacation” to Gateway, Colorado – home of red rock canyons, a beautiful secluded resort, and all the outdoor activities Jenny dreamed of one day doing, like hot air ballooning over Arches National Park! He had planned to surprise her with his proposal on the third night, but on the second day, she was so unaware of his plans that she asked him “why haven’t you taken this relationship to the next level!” Jon felt like he was one day “too late”! But it worked to his advantage because the next night she was completely surprised when he took her to the outdoor amphitheater on the resort property, where he had reserved a private dinner for two at sunset, complete with a custom meal and wines. When the main course was finished, Jon asked for the leftovers to be boxed, having arranged for the ring to be brought out in the box instead of the food! Then, under a desert rainbow (another sign!), he got down on one knee and proposed amidst surprised tears of joy from an elated Jenny!

Engagement:
Jenny and Jon were engaged for a little over 9 months. Those 9 months flew by with Jenny, her mom and best friend & Matron of Honor, Julie Comeaux planning the wedding. In between planning, Jenny and Jon had fun celebrating with family and friends starting off with a small engagement party thrown by Jenny’s parents when they returned from their proposal trip. Several parties followed including a Couples Engagement party in September, thrown by Jenny’s cousin Susan Aucoin in New Orleans, and a couples shower at the home of Nicole and Will Murphy hosted by Jenny and Jon’s good friends, the Comeauxs, Herndons, Murphys, and Muehslers. It was a beautiful and fun night filled with laughter, dancing, and good food. Jenny’s Aunt’s Kathleen Dolan and Shelly Dolan threw her a New Orleans themed bridal shower in New Orleans complete with king cakes, seafood and games in January, and in early March, Jenny’s good friends (Julie Comeaux, Elvira Lee, Jenny Coyle, Jena McCrann, Grace Bailey, Abby Munoz, Heather Bailey, Tricha Stilley, Amy Foreman, Kim Hardy & Sondra Ruhman) threw her a Mardis Gras themed bridal shower in the Woodlands at the East Shore Clubhouse. The pre-wedding festivities concluded with one last, fun, girl’s night celebration with Jenny’s close friends at Cupcakes & Bubbles in Creekside Village.
For each event including the wedding, Jenny had her makeup done by Morgan Horres at Lady Paint Makeup Artistry and her hair done by Monica Fridell at The Beauty Lounge. They truly made her look like a runway model.

Wedding:
The wedding was held at the Robb Chapel at The Woodlands United Methodist Church. It was officiated by pastor Mark Sorensen and coordinated by Lindsay Landin, both of the church. The reception was held at the Glade Cultural Center (formerly The Woodlands Homefinder Center) on April 6, 2019. The wedding was attended by 175 people, 70% of whom were from out of town.
What were the most special highlights for you at your wedding?

Unquestionably the highlight was our “first dance”. We took 3 months of dance lessons to learn a choreographed dance to a medley of three songs we selected (“At Last” by Etta James, “Bust a Move” by Young MC, and “Boogie Shoes” by KC & The Sunshine Band). The 3-minute dance introduced our reception guests to all the twists, twirls, and funky moves the two of us could muster and ended with Jon dipping Jenny’s wheelchair for a kiss on the last beat. It was a huge hit with our guests and fired up the guests to dance the night away. Jenny hand-picked the DJ and the entire playlist, which reflected her energetic party personality. We received tons of compliments on our first dance, and our guests said it was one of the best wedding receptions they had attended.

Another special highlight for us was the speeches and toasts at the reception by Jenny’s father, John Hiser, by Jenny’s matron of honor, Julie Comeaux, and by Jon’s best man and brother, Craig Bailey. Their thoughtful heartfelt humor and insight into us produced tears and laughter for us and our guests that we will always remember. We are so grateful to be so well loved by so many.

What memories/highlights include a connection to The Woodlands?

After visiting several venues for the reception, we instantly fell in love with the Glade Cultural Center. Glade was the perfect venue for us: as an art museum, it offered the classy elegant style that we wanted. Plus the scored concrete floor made it easy for Jenny in her wheelchair! We chose to do our bridal and first look portraits in the Glade gardens which offered the beautiful green and floral color of springtime that we desired. Dragos Tapu was extraordinarily helpful and always went the extra mile to accommodate our wishes. Wicked Whisk provided a flawless beverage experience for our guests.

As a wheelchair user, Jenny had specific wedding dress designs in mind; she searched the whole Houston metro area for the right store, but only Brickhouse Bridal in The Woodlands could provide the simple classy look she wanted with the modifications she needed.
We both have been a member at The Woodlands United Methodist Church for several years, and could not imagine getting married anywhere else but the Robb Chapel. Mark Sorensen, our pastor, and friend officiated the ceremony, and many guests told us how meaningful the service was to them. The sanctuary was beautiful and the photos in the garden by the chapel are among our favorites. The church soloist, Stephanie Taylor, and chorale, along with the string quartet coordinated by an employee of Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands were among the many highlights of the service that we and our guests enjoyed.

For our first dance choreography and instruction, we chose the gifted and patient Jhondarr Lopez and phenomenal staff at Fred Astaire Studios in Hughes Landing. Jon especially is forever indebted to them!
The Woodlands Convention Center and Bureau was instrumental in assisting us with securing local hotels (The Westin, Hyatt Place, Hilton, and Embassy Suites) for our many out-of-town guests who also enjoyed several days exploring Market Street and Hughes Landing businesses such as Tommy Bahamas, Goode Co. Mexican, Plush Nail Bar, and Sugarfina. The rehearsal dinner was held at Tupelo Park in Creekside Park Village and catered by Goode Co. BBQ in The Woodlands. And the Presidential Suite at the Westin was a luxurious experience for the bride and groom’s first night after the wedding!

Honeymoon and Happily Ever After
Jenny and Jon vacationed in St. Lucia in the Caribbean for their honeymoon and now reside in Creekside Park Village in The Woodlands.

Inspiring Mom – Amy Young

What has been your most challenging part of motherhood?
I would say up until this point, the most challenging aspect of motherhood has been the constant worry of whether or not I’m doing everything right. Parenting is hard, and no one knows the right answer to every challenge faced as a mother. Fear of making the wrong decision, whether it be what I am feeding my kids or the decision to discipline them in certain situations, is a constant presence. As we are entering the preteen years in our house, it is becoming increasingly clear that raising kids in a technological world (that we never had) is now becoming the most challenging aspect of motherhood. Having to monitor screen time, website content, YouTube videos…these are things our parents never dealt with. Knowing that what they click, text, post or “like” as a teenager can follow them for the rest of their lives is nerve-racking. Trying to keep a watchful eye on it can be overwhelming but extremely necessary.

What inspires you as a mom?

Watching my kids grow into these individual little people who think on their own and have their own opinions inspires me. To think that I am playing a part in who they are becoming and equipping them with the tools to make tough decisions inspires me to be a better mom.

How do you find time for yourself/spouse/children?
That’s always a tough one because we are not the best planners. My husband and I do sneak away for date nights grabbing dinner or a movie when we can. We recently started having “family meetings” with the kids. It’s a time we carve out (usually Sunday evenings) to sit with the kids (no tv, phones, computers) and talk…just talk. Sounds awkward but they are great! We discuss our upcoming week, specific needs, anything big on the horizon, etc. We also pick a word of the week (e.g., love, humility, gratitude) and discuss how to implement that word into our day-to-day. It’s been fun listening to our kids open up and seeing them attempt to put these words into practice.

What are your favorite things to do/places to spend time with your children in our community?
With all of the amenities that our community has to offer, we love venturing out and trying new activities or the latest restaurants when we can. But with kids involved in sports and extra-curricular activities, it seems most of our free time is spent at sports and recreational complexes in and around The Woodlands. Sometimes this means spending our entire weekends watching our kids in games and tournaments, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

What advice would you give new moms?
Never say, “My kid would never!” because it will come back to bite you. Trust me. Kids are kids, and no matter how perfect WE think they are, they are going to fail. They need to fail. It can be so tempting to want to swoop in and fix everything for them (guilty!), but let them figure it out. It is better to experience failures and disappointments now so they are better equipped to handle the larger challenges they will face as they become adults.

Amy and her husband, Scott, have been married for 19 years. After practicing
law for 9 years, Amy became a stay-at-home mom to her two children, Owen
(11) and Annie (10). She now dedicates her time to raising her family,
volunteering for various organizations including her children’s school (The
Woodlands Christian Academy), HOPE – The Will Herndon Research Fund and
Interfaith of The Woodlands, as well as helping with her husband’s dental
practice.
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