By Rachel H
It’s time for another Smarty Mom Saturday with today’s focus on Kristie Touchstone. I have known Kristie for about 5 years. We originally met through a mutual friend when our husbands played softball together. After numerous play dates, Bunco nights, lunches, dinners, birthday parties, girls’ trips, and even a night out dancing, our friendship has definitely grown. A bonus is that our children have also become great friends.
Kristie and her husband Ricky have lived in the Triad for 12 years. They have triplets who turned 6 this past September. Andrew, Abby, and Adam are all wonderful children who have their own unique personalities. Kristie is not only the most organized mom I know, but she is also extremely talented and crafty. On top of this, she has worked full-time at Alliance Display & Packaging for the past 9 years. She is also involved in many church activities, her Bunco group, and the Triad Mothers of Multiples group. Kristie loves reading and has also recently developed a passion for photography. She hopes to pursue this endeavor more as her children get older.
Kristie always has great Mom Tips for me, so I am hoping you’ll appreciate what she has to share with us today!
How do you manage to juggle a busy household while working full-time?
It seems like a straight-forward answer, but planning ahead is what keeps me on task. Of course, for me to do that, I have to have my calendar…and I have several of them. One at home, one at work and I also enter appointments on my Outlook calendar on my computer. Planning ahead also means thinking about what errands I need to run while I am on my lunch hour. Luckily, I work very close to Target and Sam’s…two places that I shop at frequently. Whenever I have several places to go in a short amount of time, I ‘map out’ my route and write it down. I do almost all of my grocery shopping online which saves me a ton of time and money (no impulse-buys!) Lowes-Foods-To-Go does a great job and normally the same person ‘shops’ my order every time. When I get home, I focus on the kids, feeding the family and getting ready for the next day. I’ve learned that sometimes have to ‘let go’ of things that normally bother me (a cluttered kitchen, messy bedrooms and piles of folded laundry) so that I can spend quality time with the kids. I am a night-owl so I stay up late doing things that most people do during the day.
How do you stay on top of school obligations with your triplets having three different teachers, homework assignments, and items to bring to school?
The whole summer before the triplets (a.k.a. “AAA”) started kindergarten, I wondered how I would do it! I bought a basic memo board (a big one!) which is half-corkboard and half-dry erase board and I painted/decorated it to coordinate with our kitchen. I hung it on the back of the door that goes out to our garage – this is so EVERY time I leave the house I see what is on the board. Each child has a calendar, a newsletter and various other things that I post on the board. If I need to remind myself of something REALLY important, I write it in big letters on the dry erase board. It has actually worked better than I thought!
Regarding the endless paperwork that they bring home from school…I just try to empty their backpacks as soon as we get home and I immediately throw away anything that I get duplicates of or don’t need to post on the board. They have very little homework right now, so that hasn’t been too much of an issue…ask me again next year about that!!!
Tell us about the Twin City Mothers of Multiples Group and how you have been involved with it.
I first got involved with the Mothers of Multiples club when I was about 5 months pregnant with our triplets and then I officially joined after I delivered. The club meets the 4th Monday of every month and also plans family-oriented activities outside of the meetings to get all of the kids together. As far as my own personal involvement goes, I was secretary of the Club for a year and then I became the ‘web goddess’ (as the club calls it) and maintained our website for 2-1/2 years. For those of you out there with multiples – the website is: www.tcmoms.org. The club also has a Clothing & Equipment sale twice a year – that has helped me stay organized because I am able to sell most of the things that our family does not need anymore.
What advice do you have for Moms of Multiples?
When people say to me (all the time) “ How do you handle having triplets?” I usually respond with: “I plan for the worst and hope for the best!” And usually, all of the planning pays off. I have numerous lists saved on the computer that I can just print out and check things off. In Excel, I have winter and summer trip packing lists, a list of everything I always buy at Sam’s, an on-going ‘to do’ list and I even have a ‘Christmas gift’ list for each child, my husband and me. I also keep a list of everyone we always buy gifts for each year and put all of my suggestions and/or purchases on it as I go. In short – organize, organize, organize! My other piece of advice sounds simple, but it is not: “Don’t sweat the small stuff”. If you have to let the house, dishes or laundry sit – try not to let it bother you so you can enjoy time with your kids. I am guilty of trying to ‘get it all done’ but there are times when I just decide that those things can wait.
I know that you have done a lot of research on child development because at an early age you were concerned about one of your sons and his development. What can you tell us about that?
Without going into too much detail, I want to stress that early intervention is KEY to getting help for your child. At age 3, one of our sons was not progressing like his siblings and we were concerned. Because they were preemies (born at 31 weeks), AAA were already being evaluated by Amos Cottage Child Development Center. Andrew was found to have significant delays in speech so we put him in a free preschool half-day program through WSFCS and it helped tremendously. He also has something called Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) - which is not an official medical diagnosis - but something that I learned about after doing research on some of his ‘tendencies’ that were unlike his brother and sister. The research allowed us to understand WHY certain things (haircutting) bothered him and what things we could do to make certain situations more tolerable for him. A great resource is www.sensory-processing-disorder.com
One thing that many people may not know is that if you think your child is delayed, the school system can evaluate your child and if he/she qualifies, the school system will come up with an IEP (individualized education plan) to keep track of his/her progress.
Three-and-a-half years later, I continue to do research on my own and be Andrew’s advocate. We just recently learned that he has ADHD as well Aspergers Syndrome - both have similar characteristics of SPD. None of what we have learned about our son has been a surprise to us because we have been searching for answers on his behavior for so long now. We are not embarrassed or ashamed to speak out about any of what we have learned because it is “who he is” and we want Andrew to get all of the necessary tools and help he needs to succeed in school and in life. A great ADHD website is www.additudemag.com.
By the way, Andrew loves kindergarten and he loves ‘playing school’ once he gets home. He is in a speech class several times a week and overall he is doing very well. The wonderful staff at his school has been so helpful with Andrew’s evaluations and now that we have some answers, his IEP can be modified to fit his needs. We are thankful that we went with our gut-feeling and started getting help for him so early.
Great advice! Now on to some less serious questions...
What is your favorite family activity?
One thing I do love doing is just walking around a state park, nature trail or just being outside with the family. There is so much to explore and AAA are inquisitive about ‘why things are the way they are’. Doing something like that really gives us quality family time because we are talking to each other with no other interruptions. We have a cabin up in West Jefferson and we enjoy going there as a family and seeing and learning about all of the wonderful things in nature.
Favorite date place in the Triad, or near by?
Hmmm…the two that come to my mind are Ryan’s Steakhouse (not to be confused with Ryan’s Family Steakhouse) and the Village Tavern. We like to venture out to different places though…this year we are finally going to try the Melting Pot!
Favorite place to eat out with the whole family?
My pick is Fuddruckers. It is nice and open and we can sit at a big table. Everybody likes the food and there is a wonderful employee named Alice there that always ‘takes care’ of us. Also…if it is somebody’s birthday…they will bring you a huge (free) sundae for everyone to share!
Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?
I like to hit the sales at The Children’s Place or the Osh Kosh Outlet in Blowing Rock. Sometimes I wish I was more impractical with my clothes-buying but I just can’t bear to spend more for children’s clothing than I spend on myself! I am not afraid of hand-me-downs and I can find good quality, brand-name clothing for AAA at Once Upon a Child.
What’s the Smartiest way you save money?
As I mentioned above – grocery shopping online as well as doing other shopping online. I love internet shopping and I like to find as many coupons and deals that I can. I am also a coupon-queen when I shop in the stores. I hit all of the ‘end-of-season’ sales and then try to use coupons in addition to the sales. I buy in bulk at Sam’s and that has been a great money-saver as well…especially when the kids were drinking formula and were in diapers! I am also enrolled in www.upromise.com where you can save money for college by registering your credit cards, debit cards and you savings cards (VIC card, CVS card). Each participating retailer ‘gives back’ a percentage of their choosing to your Upromise account.
Best piece of baby/kid gear?
Something that we couldn’t do without when the kids were babies was the Baby Bjorn bib. It is solid, yet flexible plastic with a nice ‘food catcher’ : ) When we’d go places and needed to feed the kids finger foods, we would just fill up the bib with pieces of food – no table needed!
One park that I love is Horizon Park. It is not very close to where we live, but it is the best one around, in my opinion.
Favorite birthday party venue?
That is easy…anywhere but at our house! The kids like Bounce-U and we have done that for 2 years in a row and it has been great. I think we’re done with the ‘big’ parties - when they turn 7, we’ll just have each of them pick a friend or two to go do something special.
Mini-van or SUV?
Gotta love my mini-van!
I could not live without…my camera!
What do you like best about raising a family in the Triad?
The fact that there is a lot to do here but yet, it is so easy to get around. One other thing that I appreciate more about living here than I ever thought I would is that our family attends the church that my husband and I got married in (St. Leo’s Catholic Church) and that AAA were baptized in. We have met so many wonderful families there and our children are growing up with the children belonging to those families.
Thanks, Kristie for all your Smarty answers!
We are always on the hunt for Smarty Moms. And while we've been featuring some moms who have done AMAZING things such as going above-and-beyond the call of duty for others, doing incredible work for her family, friends, or community, or has accomplished tremendous feats - we are also looking to feature moms in the Triad who just simply live the daily grit of motherhood! Please send us your "mominations" and feel free to nominate yourself (especially if you are a mompreneur with a great service or product to promote)! We look forward to hearing from you. Email us here with your “Smarty Momination”!