It is my pleasure to introduce you to our Smarty Mom, Katherine Hoskins. Katherine is the mom of two boys, William and Henry. She has been married to John for 11 years and I am fortunate to consider her a friend. She was nominated by one of our Smarty Readers, Heather Leavitt. I will let Heather do the introduction:
I have a Smarty Mom that continues to wow me with her commitment
to her family and to the Charlotte community. Katherine Hoskins is a
rare Charlotte native that is raising two sweet boys, ages seven and five.
While doing the traditional mommy things like volunteering at their
school Park Road Montessori and her church First Presbyterian she
has spear-headed a “Prom Shop” for the girls associated with Elon
Homes to wear to the prom. Katherine gathers used prom dresses,
bridesmaids dresses, purses, jewlery and anything that her friends
are ready to donate and sets up a store for these girls enjoy.
I believe the idea came to Katherine when she was mentoring one
of the Elon Homes girls through the Forest Hill Life Group in her neighborhood and the girl mentioned that she had nothing to wear for the prom and would LOVE to have something to wear. Then at church that Sunday the pastor was talking about doing something bigger than yourself- this was her lightbulb moment.
I don’t know the exact number of dresses but it was unbelievable how many
girls benefited the last few years from her “shop”. Anyways, I am always amazed by people who are directed by doing huge good deeds. She could have easily ignored the girls comment about the prom but she didn’t. It is inspiring.
Katherine, There is so much to find out about you!
Please tell us about William’s diagnosis of Juvenile Diabetes and how he is doing.
We had a really great summer and school had just started. We noticed for a few days that William was drinking a whole lot and going to the bathroom all the time. I thought it might be something like an infection or something we could fix with antibiotics….but I think I knew in my head because I had googled information on Juvenile Diabetes before we went to the doctor. I took William to the pediatrician and thank goodness, John was close by and came too. The nurse took the boys to get a sticker and the doctor said,” I am so sorry, but you need to go home and pack to go to the hospital.” It was heartbreaking. In the beginning, with the shock and the lack of understanding Type 1 diabetes, it was very difficult and sad. We all had a hard time adjusting. But now, 2 months later, it is amazing how our family has adapted to our new lifestyle! William is doing fantastic! He has always pricked his own finger, which is about 8 times a day and, incredibly, now he gives himself his own insulin shots, 4 times a day! He has fallen into his new way of life without missing a beat. He even stayed on track and did great through Halloween!
How has your daily life changed and what has been the biggest help?
Now that we know what we are doing, our daily life is not as hectic as it was right after the diagnosis. We have to count the carbohydrates that William eats for each meal and with each snack and then cover them with the right dose of insulin. I have to say, my math skills have improved! The days of being in Target with two hungry boys and just grabbing a box of goldfish or an Icee no longer happen. We are on more of a schedule with eating. At first it was hard to go out to eat, but we have a backpack with a book of carbohydrates, insulin, finger pricker, juice boxes and snacks that goes everywhere with us, so that makes life easier! The biggest help…having our friends and family around us. The amount of support and love we have received has blown me away! I also have friends who are nurses, friends who also have type 1 diabetes and friends with children that have diabetes that have been a great resource!
What have you learned from going through this experience?
I have learned that we can’t take our health for granted. If you ever sense something is not right, go to the doctor! We caught William’s diabetes very early. I have learned that the statement, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, can be very true! Beginning the day that William was diagnosed, our family was thrown into this unknown, scary situation….and we have become closer! We stayed close to home those first weeks and had movie nights, family dinners and played games…and that has continued! We decided that if William can’t have certain foods, then we were going to support him and we wouldn’t eat them either! William was the one who was diagnosed, but our whole family is living the life of a diabetic together!
What advice do you have for other mom’s?
There is a lot of advice I could give to a mom whose child has just been diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes (type 1), but I would just like to say…lean on your family and friends. Take their help. Accept everything from dinner to a shoulder to cry on. We absolutely could not have made it through the first weeks of diagnosis without our family and friends. I have to tell you what happened the day we came home from the 3 day stay in the hospital. In the hospital, we had doctors, nurses, nutritionists, and diabetes specialist coming in every other minute to drill the facts and treatment of type 1 diabetes into our heads! We got no sleep and I cried continually for William. I was exhausted and we were on the way home…a home that I knew was a mess, had no groceries and had a heap of laundry that I had planned on finishing after we got home after going to the doctor 3 days before. Well, we walked in our kitchen door and for the first time in days, I cried tears of relief and joy and sheer surprise! We have an incredible neighborhood and a wonderful tight group of friends and they had literally stocked our refrigerator and cabinets and countertops with diabetic friendly foods! They had researched what food was best for William and even provided a Diabetic Cookbook! Incredible…so my advice if you get knocked off your feet with something like this, you don’t have to do it alone! Lean on friends and family…they will share your burden and make it easier to overcome!
Tell us about your “Prom Shop” experience and how it began.
The “Prom Shop” experience I had will forever be one of my favorite moments in my life. I was volunteering at Elon Homes for Children with a group of fantastic women. Elon Homes is on Sharon Road and it serves children who are between the ages of 11 and 18. Most of the kids were in the custody of the Department of Social Services. They are usually placed at Elon because of abuse, neglect or abandonment. These conditions usually affect the children with emotional, behavioral and academic problems. Well, one night we were there tutoring and I was working with two teenage girls. One of them asked me if I knew where she could get a donated prom dress. It really caused my heart to ache because your prom dress should be special! Well, I couldn’t let it go and came up with a “Prom Shop” idea. Instead of just giving out a donated dress or tuxedo, why not make it like an actual shop where the kids could pick out their own dress, shoes, evening bag, tuxedo, and jewelry! So we all started collecting everything we could get our hands on that would be suitable for the prom! We tried to find things that teenagers of today would like to wear! A week or so before the prom, we set up a room at Elon to look like a prom shop. We had dresses organized by size and color. We had a table of shoes, purses, jewelry and a section with items for the guys! We even had refreshments! Joye Harris, who worked for Elon and was our partner in this, and a few of us put on prom dresses and rhinestones! We went down to where the kids had been assembled. They were baffled as to what we were up to! We took them to the “Prom Store” and were they excited! One girl was so thrilled, she said she had never owned a dress, especially a prom dress! Each of the kids had a personal shopper who led them through the store. First, they picked out a dress and then went on to accessorize! It was truly incredible because most of the girls picked out their favorite dress, tried it on and it fit perfectly! It really looked like a shop with everyone “shopping” and to see the kids with the smiles on their faces was truly something I will never forget! It was a perfect day! I hope one day to plan another prom shop with another Charlotte organization!
One of our questions is always SUV or minivan – I know you drive a minivan but I want you to share how you decorate it.
Oh, I love my minivan! I do decorate it for holidays! I usually get the really obnoxious shiny tinsel and wrap it all the way around the rack on top of my car! This Halloween it had bats on it! Last year it was pumpkins. I have stockings ready to be put on for Christmas! It is a bit tacky, but it is fun and my kids love it! The best part at Christmas is that when I am scanning the parking lot for my car, I can always find it with the bright silver shimmering on the top of the car! I did have an incident once when Valentine’s hearts were flying off my car and I could see people behind me turning on their windshield wipers! Oh, I also have lots of bumper stickers that reflect my personality!
What is the funniest thing the boy’s have ever said to you?
I know a million times a week, I think they say the funniest things…but of course now I can’t think of one example! I do think they are so funny when they dress up like cowboys and play Bonanza (their favorite show) in the backyard! They act like the fire pit area is their ranch and they call each other Hoss and Little Joe and say, “Let’s get the horses, bud!” They really get into character!
What is your favorite family activity?
My husband built a wonderful stone fire pit and patio in our backyard. We love to have friends come over! We have a fire going and the kids cook hotdogs and marshmallows for dinner! We listen to music and play cornhole…our favorite backyard game! We have done this almost every weekend and have lots of friends join in the fun!
Favorite “mommy time” activity?
I love to get a coffee and walk around Target by myself! I love my Wednesday night tennis with my friends…we take a few beverages down and laugh and try to get in some tennis too! I also do two “Girl’s Weekends” a year…one to the beach and one to the mountains! I couldn’t imagine life without those trips!
Best place to eat out with the whole family?
We love Moe’s, Jason’s Deli, Salsarita’s, Wolfman Pizza and of course, Chick-Fil-A!
Best place to eat for date night?
Big Daddy’s Burger Bar has the BEST burgers and onion strings and is very budget friendly! We also love the Thai Orchid in Strawberry Hill.
Favorite weekend escape?
John and I love to go to the mountains. We usually find a great b & b, such as The Orchard Inn in Saluda, N.C. or The River House in Grassy Creek, N.C. (Our favorites!) We like to hike, eat great food, visit some “junk” stores, walk through the town and just relax on the porch and have a cocktail!
Favorite place to shop for kids clothes?
I have two boys who are pretty hard on their clothes…so I frequently shop at Target! I also like Old Navy and the Osh Kosh B’Gosh outlet store.
Best piece of baby/kid gear?
For the past 5 years, the best gear I have is my minivan! Love it! I do look forward to the day that I get a regular car, but you can’t beat the seating and the sliding doors for two young kids and their friends!
Dan Nicholas Park near Salisbury! Only an hour away and where else can you go to: ride a train, pan for gems, have a picnic, play on a huge playground, visit a zoo, ride a carousel, paddle a boat, feed the ducks and play putt putt! It is our favorite field trip!
Best birthday party you’ve attended?
I really loved the birthday party at Latta Plantation Equestrian Center…the cow-train, riding a pony, hay ride…and we also had a fun party at our house that was a pirate theme. We made treasure maps with little rhymes that told clues of the 5 places the “pirates” could find treasure! They loved figuring out the hiding places and getting their loot!
I could not live without my (mom or kids related…),
Don’t laugh, but right now, I’d say Facebook! I recently got on it and have found many old friends from elementary age, to high school and college that I had lost touch with years ago! It is a great way to keep in touch with all friends and see pictures of their families!
Best thing about raising a family in Charlotte?
My husband, John, and I are both native Charlotteans so it is wonderful that most of our family is still here! It is also neat to have our children growing up going to the same places we went when we were growing up…the Nature Museum, The Children’s Theater, Freedom Park, just to name a few!
Heather, Thank you for nominating Katherine. Katherine, thank you for being you!! If you have someone you would like to nominate please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PS. Don’t forget to register for our Smarty Giveaway from Living Simply – 5 hours of organizational service with 2 consultants valued at $550! Giveaway closes at 11pm on Wednesday, 11/12. Click here to enter!