The Blog Hits the Terrible Twos and I am Terribly Grateful

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I didn’t plan to mention this blog’s two year birthday this week because it seemed a little self-serving, or self-righteous, or just plain irrelevant to everyone but perhaps me, but a couple things happened today that changed my mind. Though all of the above may still be true, so I apologize for the five seconds it has taken you to read this far and no hard feelings if you jump off this post as quickly as you came. šŸ˜‰

If you don’t know much about my daily life before blogging, it may be a surprise that I started my professional career as a child abuse investigator for the State of Texas. I was 21 years old, fresh out of the University of Texas with a Bachelor’s in Social Work, and I spent my days (and nights and weekends) knocking on doors and investigating allegations of abuse and neglect of children. I can think of no faster way to be throw into the “real world” than that job. At one point I had over 100 cases open at the same time and there were far greater needs than resources.Ā  I did it for about a year, and then went back to grad school after having a couple of cases where the outcome frustrated me greatly. I needed to be able to do more within the system than just investigate.

Fast forward a year and a half, and I got my Master’s in Social Work at NYU (not the wisest financial move of all time), and I returned to working for the state in a slightly different role. Eventually I trained new caseworkers in their formal three month training program, and then my last position was writing statewide training curriculum for investigators. Today I read about a 23 year old child abuse investigator in Houston who was assaulted while doing her job checking on the welfare of a one-year-old. From the articles I have read, it sounds like she was very lucky to have made it out of the home alive. Everyone doing that job knows the risk of the unknown that is on the other side of the door, but that doesn’t make it any easier when something goes terribly wrong. Caseworkers are armed with nothing more than a cell phone, and it is both impractical and impossible to bring law enforcement with you on most cases, so you have to rely on yourself and on a little luck.

I very much miss doing work on behalf of children who have experienced more terrible things than most of us can imagine, but I am so eternally grateful to spend these years focusing my energy on my own young child, and writing about much happier things (ie miles, points, and family travel). Sure it is stressful in its own way when you blog about a deal that doesn’t work out, or get some details of something incorrect, or receive “hate mail” from those who just don’t like what you write.Ā  But that doesn’t even come close to the stress that comes with wondering if your worker safety training was enough to keep a caseworker safe, or perhaps worse yet whether or not you made the right call on if a child is safe in their own home.


I had this site as a side hobby/job for about a year while I was working for the state.Ā  When I first started, the major miles and points blogs I knew of were ran by folks with names like Brian, Rick, Gary, Ben, and Seth, and while I loved their sites, they were all guys who weren’t writing from the point of view of a parent with young kids.Ā  I decided to start writing from a different point of view, and now two years later there are many female and parent voices in the miles and points world, which I think is a great thing.

After that first year of blogging on nights and weekends after being at work during day, for the sake of my family I had to make a choice. I chose to step away from the world of child welfare for a while, and focus on happier things. Stories like the one I read in the paper today make me so grateful that I had that choice.Ā  I will absolutely go back to helping the kiddos who need help the most, but hopefully it will be in an advocacy and volunteer role. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I am grateful for every one of you that has taken the time out of your day to stop by this site over the past two years. I’m also grateful for those of you who have taken the time to share your stories of how this site has helped you, as that is why the site started, and why it continues. Here is the most recent example that I received this afternoon:

BIG BIG THANKS for all you do!! Because of what I learned from you, my family is going to Hawaii in July!! Woooohooo!!

We’re late in the game with trying to book a Hawaii trip with points, but since we love it there so much, we hoped and hoped we could make it work out. Even coming in late, because I took your advice and opened that AMEX and earned those Reward points and transferred them to BA, we were able to piece it together with other points I already had on HA. I still can barely believe we can get to Hawaii with so few Avios!
Why did I NOT open that same card for DH, I will never know!! We are super thrilled we will be returning to Hawaii and wanted to give you a shout out!!

This reader is thanking me, but really I am the one who is thanking them. Thanking them for sharing their story, for supporting this site, and for making the effort to plan and take exciting and rewarding trips with their family.Ā  As Mommy Points enters the “terrible twos”, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they aren’t really terrible (we all know that the “threes” are way more terrifying than twos anyway). Thank you for making this journey possible, and if I can help you with anything in the future don’t hesitate to ask.

I guess now I should go and eat a cupcake…or two. šŸ˜‰

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  1. Congrats Summer. Your additions to the space have been wonderful and refreshing. The “Mommy” view is important to all of us, as is your down to earth, “we’ll ride in coach” style of travel.

    People may write a few nasty letters, but the ones like you included today, make the “job” all so much fun.

    Congrats again


  2. CodeAdam, ha ha! Thanks for the time warp. I would still agree with most of that post two years later (though I am sure many of the first posts are quite hilarious now). šŸ˜‰
    Rick, totally agree and thanks for all your support. šŸ˜‰
    Alanea, any excuse for a cupcake. šŸ˜‰

  3. A friend’s daughter, also a social worker who made house calls, was attacked while in the home of a man who was mentally ill. So I know how hard this can be. Your post comes at a good time for me. It sure took the edge off my current stress around booking a vacation! Well said. Happy Birthday!

  4. Congratulations Mommy Points. I read your post as a mommy who now uses your advice to visit children in far flung places like Kenya, Barcelona and San Francisco. Being a mommy never ends.

    And thank you for taking a chance and deviating a little from the points world. Reading about your past reinforces why I truly enjoy reading your blog. Three’s not too bad, and from there it just gets better. Congrats again.

  5. Yikes. That story reminds me of when Megan briefly worked as a census worker, and one resident set his dogs on her. She escaped unharmed, but very shaken.

  6. Just…wow…congrats Summer! I had no idea about your history as a social worker. Thank you for doing that. It’s so important and thank goodness that there are people brave enough to do it (and for not much money, either, unfortunately).
    Seeing your pics with little C makes me nostalgic about the days when it was just me and my little Hanna. It’s so fun when it’s just you and your little buddy.
    Here’s to year number three!

  7. MP – congratz on the 2 year mark. Have watched your blog develop for must be over a year now. Great perspectives. As an aside – thanks for sharing your peronal story. my Aunt ran a home for foster kids. As kids my brother and I would hang out with them. Most were down on their luck in some way and needed some space amd structure from a family perspective, some had really tough situations and needed a loving home. Over the years it got harder and more dangerous. Drugs baca,me a bigger issue in many family issues, as did violence. Big respect to any that work in that field. It is a tough road, rarely recognized and not financially rewarded. True gold people.

  8. It was your blog that hooked me on Boarding Area and your coverage of last year’s Radisson “big night” promotion that helped me turn my fascination with point earning into a reality for the first time. Eight of us are going to Hawaii for Thanksgiving week this year, nonstop from DFW, entirely on miles thanks in big part to those Radisson miles. Thanks for a wonderful blog!

  9. Congratulations on two years! My family has benefited greatly from your site. You have taught me everything there is to know about Ultimate Rewards and thanks to this site I have earned lots of miles and points. Looking forward to a trip to vegas next week paid for with UR, hotel and flight! Thanks for all that you do!

  10. Congrats. Your blog gave me great advice and encouragement to take advange of the 2011 us air grand slam. We earned enough to take our high school aged son to SFO and Reno in first class and my wife and I to Rome in Envoy so we could take the cruise of a lifetime.

    Forget the haters. You can’t make all the people happy all the time.

  11. Congrats on making it two years, and thanks so much for all the help you’ve offered.

    As we have a baby on the way, I’m more and more interested in the logistics of traveling with a kid. I know you have a lot in the archives, but if you’re thinking about ideas for future blog posts, I’d love to get more in the weeds re advice on traveling with infants and small kids… How has Little C’s travel bag evolved with time? Any advice beyond that in the archives for new parents?

    Thanks for everything.

  12. Congrats! I’m a retired teacher and……. wouldn’t miss your blog for anything. It has not only helped me get points to travel to exotic places, but it has helped me stay connected to home base -IAH-………… Houston. Just got back home after 2 months in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Read the blog each day there. Thanks again!

  13. Congratulations on two years. I only discovered the world of miles/points travel about 6 months ago and have been reading your blog since then. What I really appreciate about this blog is that you are one of the few that discusses family travel. We’re trying to put together a trip to Europe for next summer with our two teenagers and it’s proving difficult since there are so few quad rooms available with points. Thanks for what you do!

  14. Although I’m not a female or a parent or most other parts of your target demographic, your blog is one that I try to read every day because you’re also a very engaging writer.

    What you have been able to do is take what has often been misunderstood as an elitist hobby and democratised it for an entirely new audience. Sure, others have tried to do this before, but you have succeeded on a much larger scale. You don’t give off the aura of knowing everything already and the reader feels that they are joining you in the learning process. As you are no doubt aware from your days in training, that is one of the most effective strategies.

    So kudos to you. It takes a lot of courage to write and put yourself out there to be judged. I’m glad, and so are all your regular readers, that you decided to do it.

  15. Wow – thank you guys! Not sure what else to say…other than I did eat a celebratory beignet. šŸ˜‰

  16. Such a sweet post! You have a strong and clear voice that comes through in your blog. It’s a pleasure to read your straightforward reviews of goings on in the points and miles world! Cheers to another year of great writing and great travel šŸ™‚

  17. MP, congratulations, and best wishes for the future! Your sharing in this post is moving, powerful and profound. It captures your good heart and passion for advocacy work for children. I have no doubt you will return to it in some form or other, but in the meantime, you carry it with you in your mind & heart.
    Thanks for all you do in the world of points for families, and for giving this grandma good advice to keep seeing her adorable granddaughters. Your support in last year’s medical trip to HAITI was invaluable. Cheers to you, Little C, and the Man in your life!

  18. Congrats. I’m Neither a mommy or a parent, but much of your site is of benefit to us single people. Your way of presenting the info is both readable and insightful.

  19. Iā€™m not a mommy yet but in the future :). Your site is a great benefit to me. Your way of presenting the info is both readable and insightful.

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