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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Smarty Mom: Rachel H

By Katie M

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 (5) and Anna (3), and they live in the Triad after several years in Charlotte. For eight years, Rachel taught elementary school both in Charlotte and in Winston-Salem, and she also once managed a 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 for up to eight children a week, and continues her part-time Mary Kay business that she’s had for the past 10 years. Rachel is also busy volunteering for her children’s schools, her church, the KasieSmiles organization, 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 two 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 three and five, 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. We never have any arguments over what or what not to wear. (Don't quote me on that when my daughter is 13!) 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 - I love the hourly child care drop off. Some family friends of ours run BiziKids in Winston-Salem, and it is a great service for me to use! I tutor some in the afternoons, too, so I can drop the kids off without ever having to worry about a babysitter cancelling, being late, or having to cancel my tutoring sessions due to one of these problems.

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 in Charlotte. Although I do not remember much of the drive down there, 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 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 and last year we put on a golf tournament, dinner and silent auction for over 200 people. It was a day to honor and remember Kasie, and we raised money for these scholarships at the same time. 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. 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. 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: CandyLand, Checkers, Chess, Memory, puzzles, crafts, etc. We also have a family dinner EVERY night unless I am tutoring! All four of us eat together. I realize that this will become more and more difficult as the kids get more involved in sports and 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. I will admit that we eat really early since my husband and I often have meetings or other activities in the evenings, but 5:30pm dinner time is a good excuse for us to have popcorn or ice cream after the kids go to bed!

Favorite “mommy time” activity?
Anything with my girlfriends! I love meeting friends for lunch or dinner, playing Bunco, going to movies, shopping, catching up on Facebook, etc. And I love reality TV. The cheesier, the better.

Favorite date place in the Triad, or near by?
PF Changs at Friendly Center or The Melting Pot – both in Greensboro.

Favorite place to eat out with the whole family?
For a low-key, quick meal, we like Qdoba or Mello Mushroom. When we want to have more of a relaxing dinner, we usually go to Chili's because they have so many options for the kids. Also, BLL Rotisserie, or Outback.

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. They always run sales and honor coupons on sale items. Plus, they have a point system where you earn gift cards for each dollar spent. One more: Mini Boden End of Season Clearance. This is my favorite place to get clothes for my son.

What’s the Smartiest way you save money?
I go to so many sales, that I don't think we can afford for us to save any more money! (ha, ha)

One idea for a FREE outing for young kids - the mall! I know some people despise the mall, but I love it. We can go alone, or meet friends there. You can window shop for free, kids can ride the elevator for free, they can play with the toys outside of KB Toy store for free, they can play on the play area outside of Sears for free, there are always pretzel people handing out free samples, and the best is when we pass Abercrombie & Fitch - the kids have a huge dance party on the big floor area at the front of the shop as the store blasts their music. All for free! I will admit that now that my son is five, he is getting slightly embarrassed by the dance party, but for four-and-unders, the mall is a great outing!

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.

Favorite park?
For a picnic - Reynolda Gardens or the park at Five Points intersection in Winston. (It's actually just a big green area, but has lots of trees and room to run and play.)For a playground - Triad Park in Kernersville, or Tanglewood in Winston

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. Last year 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 only $75. 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.

Mini-van or SUV?

I could not live without…
My girlfriends. ALWAYS there for me and always so much fun.

What do you like best about raising a family in the Triad?
The beach is only a few hours away and the mountains are only one hour away. Best of both worlds! Oh yeah, and we can get to the lake in less than an hour, too!

Thanks, Rachel for your Smarty answers and Smarty tips!

Do you know a mom who goes above and beyond the call of duty for others, someone who does incredible work for her family and a charitable organization, runs a company and a marathon, or is just simply living the daily grit of motherhood?! Then email me here!


Debbie DeLoach said...

Rachel is a great friend of mine and she is just as "Awesome" as our friend, Kasie, was. I loved Kasie dearly and met Rachel through her. We just moved to triad area and Rachel has be great at giving me ideas and tips on the area. She is goign to make a wonderful "Smarty Mom"

Debbie DeLoach

Anonymous said...

I loved the interview- it is Rachel to a "T!" Great smarty mom :-)

Lori Starling said...

You couldn't have picked a better "Smarty Mom"...I just feel lucky to be one of those girlfriends that gets to meet her for lunch, at the mall and at the park. Rach is one of the most giving, most sincere people you will ever meet!

T.Beatty said...

I have know Rachel for as long as I can remember. She is definitely a go to for me on so many things. I am glad she is now able to share her ideas and insight with so many others. She is quite remarkable!!

Tracy Beatty

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