By Katie M and Courtenay W
Some of you may be wondering who is that Rachel H. who has had so many great posts. She is Co-VP of Mommyhood in the Triad and it is past time that we introduced her to you. She is this week’s Smarty Mom and next week we will introduce you to Katie M. They are two very Smarty Moms and are doing terrific work bringing the Smarty Pants world to the Triad. Rachel is one of those terrific girls that upon meeting you just want to be friends with. She is funny, not afraid to poke fun of herself, organized, generous and kind-hearted. We are very excited to introduce her to you. Katie M. profiled Rachel when she came on board with Triad Smarty Pants and below is her introduction.
It’s another great Smarty Mom Saturday with today’s focus on Rachel H. I can’t remember if I first met Rachel when our two oldest played on the same YMCA soccer team or if we originally met at church, but either way Rachel is the kind of person who makes you feel as though she’s known you forever.
Rachel and her husband Kevin have two adorable children, Jake (6) and Anna (4). They now live in the Winston Salem, although Rachel grew up in Charlotte and spent time here after college. For eight years, Rachel taught elementary school both in Charlotte and in Winston-Salem, and she also once managed Sardis Forest Swim Club pool and coached a swim team for more years than she can count. But she gave all that up so she could stay at home with her children. Today, she is also a part-time math tutor, and continues her part-time Mary Kay business that she’s had for the past 11 years. Rachel is also busy volunteering for her children’s schools, her church, Children’s Liturgy, as well as spending time with friends and family. All this, and she gives support when she can to her husband who recently became a business owner and now manages three restaurants.
So, let’s chat with Rachel.
How do you manage to juggle a busy household while managing your professional, social and charitable obligations?
I guess the biggest component is good time management skills. I have somehow figured out a way to always do two or three things at a time. But, I am also a person who likes to put 100% into whatever it is I am doing. I do not want to let any one area suffer, especially family, so when I decide that it is time to be with my kids, I try to really “be in the moment.” If we are playing a game, I won’t answer the phone, check email, or make my little lists that I am always thinking about. I try to just play the game and that is it!
I think the other important factor is raising your children to be independent. It can be as simple as getting themselves dressed, picking up their rooms, getting out all supplies needed for a craft or activity, setting up the DVD player, getting their own snack, etc. My children are only four and six, so obviously the list of responsibilities can grow as they grow. The bottom line is that if your kids are helping themselves, they are also helping you.
What Smarty tips do you have for moms who struggle with the same busy schedules?
I think that if you can start your morning off smoothly, the rest of the day is a piece of cake! If your kids are young, one thing that has worked for me is the clothes organizer that hangs in the closet. It has five compartments with each day of the week on them. I put outfits in there for the entire week. When my kids get up, they can get dressed before they even come out of their rooms. My husband leaves around 6 am, so we usually miss him in the mornings. The kids and I usually wake up at 7am, and are out the door by 7:30 am.
Another Smarty tip – the grocery express lane is great! Place your order online and pick it up without getting out of your car! Cost – $5
One more Smarty tip – my friends and I are always pitching in to help each other with child care. I do not think I have paid an actual baby sitter since last summer. It is nothing structured, but I have a group of friends who are incredible and we all help each other out when needed, plus the kids get a playdate as well. It is a win-win!
Rachel, unfortunately, you share a similar experience to those of us at SmartyPants, and that is losing a dear friend way too early in life. Tell us about your friend Kasie and how you devote your time to KasieSmiles.
Kasie was one of my BFF’s since freshman year of college. We lived with each other after college for four years, we were in each other’s weddings, and we were pregnant with our sons together.
She was about 12 weeks pregnant with her second child in August of 2005. I spoke to her one day on the phone and she had told me that she was having terrible headaches. Two days later, I got a call that she was in a coma in Intensive Care at Presbyterian. Although I do not remember much of the drive down there from Winston-Salem, I drove to Charlotte in time to see her and tell her I loved her. After many different complications, she and the unborn baby passed away a few days later. Her son was only two. Needless to say, it was a complete shock for everyone. The result was a brain tumor that obviously no one knew about.
Kasie was in one word – awesome. Everyone knew Kasie and everyone loved Kasie. To be her friend was a privilege.
A few years before Kasie passed away, she helped start Charlotte Smiles, which was a group of lifelong friends who would help those less fortunate in the Charlotte area. After Kasie passed away, her husband, Phil, started a foundation in her name called KasieSmiles. In conjunction with both, we have started a few scholarships in her name. A group of us also put on a golf tournament, dinner and silent auction for over 200 people in her honor. It was a day to honor and remember Kasie, and we raised money for these scholarships at the same time. I also love the fact that my son and Kasie’s son only see each other a few times a year, but when they do it is like long-lost friends have been reunited! It makes me smile every time I see them together carrying on the friendship of their moms!
You can read more about Kasie on the website for KasieSmiles.
What is the funniest things one of your children has said?
We were in Dillard’s and we had walked into a dressing room for me to start trying on bathing suits. My daughter Anna was about three years old and all the rooms around us were occupied and it was dead silent except for Anna. “Hey mom, make sure no one sees your heiney.” I responded with, “OK, Anna, shhh.” Anna went on, “OR your wee-wee! Oh wait, I forgot, you don’t have a wee-wee.” I am starting to hear chuckles from all around. “But Daddy has a wee-wee and Jakey has a wee-wee. Right mom? Right? Mom, why do you keep saying Shhh?” You get the idea. I think I was crying by this time from laughing so hard. I don’t think I ever found a bathing suit that day, but Anna sure made that miserable task a little more fun!
What is your favorite family activity?
Although I classify myself as pretty much “an indoor gal,” we love to be outside together as a family. Sometimes that is throwing frisbees or flying kites at Reynolda Gardens in Winston. Other times we like to go to Hanging Rock State Park and hike to the waterfalls. We love driving to Boone and showing the kids all the places we hung out while we were in college. We also love when area vineyards or parks have outdoor concerts. For indoor activities, we love the classic games: Sorry, Checkers, Memory, puzzles, crafts, etc. Of course we now love Wii and Blokus, too. We also have a family dinner almost every night! We try hard to plan it around sports and meetings. I realize that this will become more and more difficult as the kids get more involved in other activities, but my husband’s family and my family always made family dinner time a priority, even into our teens, so we want to try our best to do the same.
Favorite “mommy time” activity?
Anything with my girlfriends! I love meeting friends for lunch or dinner, playing Bunco, going to movies, book club, shopping, etc. And I love reality TV. The cheesier, the better.
Favorite date place in Charlotte?
PF Changs will always be one of my favorites. My husband and I had our first date at the Melting Pot, so we like to go there on anniversaries.
Favorite place to eat out with the whole family?
In Winston we love Mellow Mushroom and Japanese Restaurants. In Charlotte we usually end up at Chili’s since they have something for everyone.
Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?
Gazoodles in Winston – end of season clearance! Love it!!! Cute and unique clothes that will be discounted anywhere from 30-70% off. Plus, they have a playhouse that entertains the kids while you shop. Also love The Children’s Place, Mini Boden and Lands End for the End of Season Clearance.
What’s the Smartiest way you save money?
I go to so many sales, but I don’t think we can afford for me to “save” us any more money! (ha, ha)
Best piece of baby/kid gear?
As I think back to the baby days, I would definitely have to say the Megasaucer. Both of my kids loved it because they could sit up in it and see everything going on around them.
Since we still come to Charlotte a lot to visit, we often meet friends at William R. Davie Park on Highway 51.
Favorite birthday party venue?
I love huge birthday blowouts! I love throwing parties, attending parties, & crashing parties! (Just kidding about the crashing part.) But I also tend to go for big birthdays due to my friend, Kasie. She went ALL OUT for her son’s first birthday. We all gave her a hard time about it and asked how she was going to top it the next year. Little did we know, she would only celebrate one more birthday with him. I quickly learned how precious life can be. We never know how many birthdays we will share with our children. It is only once a year, so I figure why not make it as big as we want?!?! And we don’t have to necessarily top it the next year. Just whatever we have time for or are in the mood for – we do it. Luckily, both of my kids have birthdays in June, so we have been able to do theirs together. Two years was my favorite – we hired a children’s band called Big Bang Boom to play in our backyard. The kids loved it and I think the adults did, too! We split the cost with another friend of ours who has a June birthday. So, we entertained 60 plus kids for less than $100 each. What a bargain! Although, I am sure Big Bang Boom has raised their rates since then, so I would not expect to get that rate now. But I do know that they will travel to Charlotte!
Mini-van or SUV?
I could not live without…
My girlfriends. ALWAYS there for me and always so much fun.
Thanks, Rachel for your Smarty answers and Smarty tips!
*Photo courtesy of Andrea Halsey Photography