Friday Introductions: Meet our Playgroup Leaders!

We're continuing on the Friday Introductions bandwagon, and taking time each week to introduce you to some of our amazing volunteer staff! Because our wonderful staff has grown so much, (amazing, truly.) We are doubling up each week on the introductions. This week we are going to introduce you to our amazing Playgroup Leaders! First up, meet Gina. Incredibly genuine, so welcoming and kind, and a fabulous baker to boot...she may or may not sometimes make yummy treats and bring them to playgroup. Just saying.

1) Introduce yourself!
Gina Hamilton, 31  
Elise 2 years old
Expecting baby #2 this summer! 

I’m a registered nurse, but have been taking a break from nursing this year to focus on my growing family!  

I volunteer as Playgroup Co­-Leader with The Motherhood Collective. 

2) How did you come to work with TMC?
I attended my very first Cafe' when I was 12 weeks pregnant with my first. After attending just one cafe I felt so empowered and encouraged after hearing the other mama’s birth stories! Just that one encounter changed the way I viewed birth and made me realize that I had options (that I didn’t even know existed in this area) and led me on an amazing journey (I’d love to tell you all about it if you’re interested). Ever since then and since the birth of my daughter I’ve been so passionate about this organization and their mission! I attended every Cafe' that I could after Elise’s birth and was looking and hoping for a way to give back to this organization that has given me so much! Lauren approached me about co-­leading playgroup when my daughter was about 6 months old and I was eager to jump on board! 

3) How do you take your coffee?
Hazelnut or vanilla flavored with a generous splash of cream and a little sugar. 

4) If you could pick any vacation in the world, what would it be and why?
Any tropical island with crystal blue, green and turquoise water, white sand and palm trees. I’d actually love to go back to the Virgin Islands one day! If this is a dream vacation a nanny would also be a requirement since it brings me such joy to watch my daughter explore and play in the sand and water at the beach but feeding, clothing, potty training and parenting a two year old is hard work and leaves no time for rest or relaxation or uninterrupted time with one’s husband… 

Why… I love the ocean, for me, there’s no place that’s more relaxing… the breeze, the feeling of the sand on my bare feet, walking on the shore, swimming in the ocean... Snorkeling in Trunk Bay is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done… seeing colorful fish, coral and swimming alongside a sea turtle are all things I’d love to do again one day with my family. 

5) What has been the hardest part about your motherhood journey?
Postpartum: the extreme lack of sleep, lack of support, trying to breastfeed my baby (that couldn’t tolerate formula) with tongue tie and an aversion to the breast that would scream and cry when even brought near my bare chest, pumping constantly, the anxiety that consumed me until she finally latched on at 10 weeks old. 

6) What has been the best part?
Needless to say, the newborn phase is not my favorite part (see #5)! Honestly, once we got over that big hurdle I felt like I/we could accomplish anything. Once feeding my baby wasn’t a struggle I was able to enjoy being a mother and have enjoyed motherhood ever since. Even though things were harder than I imagined they would be in the beginning, motherhood has also been so much more amazing and fulfilling than I ever could have imagined it would be. I’ve loved getting to know my daughter, seeing her personality blossom, watching her grow, learn and explore. She amazes me every day, she has changed me for the better, and causes me to reevaluate myself often and strive to be the best version of myself so that I may set a good example for her to follow.  

7) Leggings as pants: yay or nay?
Depends on the leggings, but usually as long as shirt or sweater is long enough to cover everything then yes. 

8) Favorite TV show?
Grey’s Anatomy, even though it used to really annoy me that the doctors do a lot of things that nurses usually do in the hospital (besides operate of course). 


9) Favorite junk food?
At this point in my pregnancy, ice cream. 

10) Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Recently I read a parenting article that really struck a chord, the gist: “Just do you.” The article wasn’t profound nor was this a new concept to me (one of the reasons I love TMC is because of their “salad bar approach”). The article really spoke to me because it compared opposing parenting views with ‘assumed’ consequences of doing the opposite using sarcasm of course. By the time you get to the end of the article you realize just how absurd all this is and how truly different every single person's opinion is so why worry about what someone else thinks is best, when you are the one that knows your child better than anyone else. You are the best mother for them, you are the expert. Don’t second guess what works best for you and your family, whatever that may be.  


Next, we would love to introduce you to our other Playgroup Leader, Jenna! With a surprising (yet awesome) sense of sarcastic humor, a heart that is passionate about helping young mothers, and a willingness to give her all to everything she does, we kind of like Jenna a lot. 


1) Introduce yourself!
My name is Jenna Tomlin, I will be 28 in June (the reality of turning 30 soon is sending me for a loop), one precious baby boy that turned 1 in January and have been married to my best friend for 5 ½ years. This will be my first year co-leading the playgroup which will be perfect for my super active little man. 

2) How did you come to work with TMC?
I knew Lauren through church and had been following her work with The Motherhood Collective since its inception because I’ve always loved all things surrounding motherhood. After finishing college and before I had a full-time job, I had the opportunity to work as the childcare coordinator and served in that capacity until a full-time job caused me to not be able to volunteer. I now serve as the co-leader of the Playgroup.

3) How do you take your coffee?
From Starbucks: Nonfat Mocha
From Dunkin Donuts: Largest size of Iced Coffee with Cream Only
At Home: Dark Roast Coffee with half-and-half

4) If you could pick any vacation in the world, what would it be and why?
It would be a tie between a tour of England, Scotland and Ireland, I love all things British, the tea, the Royal Family, the accents (who doesn’t), the TV (BBC Sherlock is one of the greatest shows ever created), the culture and the countryside.

The other tie would be an African Safari, I always thought that would be an awesome vacation to see something so different than what we encounter day to day and I’m slightly obsessed with zoos and aquariums so why not see some of the most magnificent animals in their natural habitat.
 
5) What has been the hardest part about your motherhood journey?
Our time in the mother-baby unit. After truly an idyllic labor and delivery that was everything I hoped it would be, we had a horrible stay in mother-baby that took several weeks to get over. Also, the just constant hum in my brain of thinking about and sometimes worrying about caring for another little human being.

6) What has been the best part?
Every new stage. Seeing my little snuggly, sleepy newborn blossom into a little guy that is extremely effective at communicating, loves to use sign language, makes me laugh every day and has just recently learned how to tickle us which causes us all to laugh hysterically. 

7) Leggings as pants: yay or nay?
Yay as long as you have something like a tunic or dress on top, like most other people have answered, cover the tush and you’re good!

8) Favorite TV show?
Right now it is Parks and Recreation, I have watched through the whole series at least 3 times now. I have also watched all of The Office, Friends, and Sherlock (like mentioned previously, one of the greatest TV shows ever created). I also love watching cooking shows with Good Eats being my longest standing favorite and The Pioneer Woman being my current favorite, can I just have her house, her dogs, her horses, and land but also only live 30 minutes from a big city, reasonable request right? And the Great British Bake Off. I also enjoy Master Chef Junior and it is the only show that I watch with regularity on real TV; Netflix is where I live most of the time.

9) Favorite junk food?
Brownies for days!! And a brownie sundae with coffee ice cream would be alright too.

10) Best advice you’ve ever been given?
From my mom growing up: You can do anything you set your mind to. 

Alisha Meador

Alisha Meador is mother to 2 wonderful and wild little boys. She has an obsession with all things British, is an aspiring writer, amateur yogi and pretty decent backyard homesteader. She is so thankful for this motherhood community.