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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Smarty Mom: Clare A

By Katie M

Happy Valentine’s Day, Smarty readers! I am excited to introduce to you Clare Altmann as today’s Smarty Mom. Clare (pictured with her father and daughters) is a Winston-Salem native who, after moving away for 12 years after high school, resettled back in her hometown and has been here for 10 years. She is married to Heinz and has three beautiful daughters: Katie Gray (12), and twins Harriett and Sarah (8). Currently, Clare is Director of Marketing for Capital Development Services, a fund raising consulting and executive search firm serving non-profits across the Southeast. But she has had the pleasure of filling almost every role of a Mom on varying levels and at varying stages: as a stay-at-home Mom, currently as a part-time working Mom, and once as a full-time working Mom.

Aside from pride in her family, Clare absolutely loves her job which gives her great pleasure and a sense of accomplishment. In addition to her job, she maintains a lifelong commitment to community volunteer work and has always been very active in her church(es). Her volunteer roles over the years have included board and committee work at Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross, Crisis Control Ministry, and church leadership roles, including serving as an Elder in the Presbyterian Church and on the Vestry of the Episcopal Church.

I met Clare through another Smarty Mom, and we all belong to a book club that meets regularly. Clare is one of the most well-read moms I know (and we all know it can be difficult to stay on top of the latest reads), and she always provides great insights and personal anecdotes to our discussions. Her energy and knack for organization is unwavering, and her commitment to her friends and family is evident even from the first moment you meet her.

So let’s chat with Clare!

How do you balance your work and home life?
Most important to me is the flexibility my job allows for me to control my schedule and even to work from home as needed. It is nice to know that I rarely have to miss an event I want to be part of for my children. Also I have structured my days so that I begin each day with a 30-40 minute work-out at the gym. It’s a great way to start every day, and if I don’t make it every day, by planning to go every day, I do at least make it most days. I am fortunate to also have a husband who is a good cook and actually enjoys preparing most of our dinners!

What Smarty tips do you have for other moms in your position?
My belief is that it is important for children to see their parents, and especially their mothers, contributing to the world in ways that are both personally satisfying and productive. I want them to know that my work is important to our family and is an important part of who I am as a person in addition to the person they know me as at home. By seeing me in my working role, my children benefit and gain the innate confidence to fulfill their career dreams in their own futures. Because I work part-time on a flexible schedule, they also see plenty of me as their Mommy. They come along occasionally on volunteer service projects or visit me in the office, and I think it is good exposure for them. We cannot be ‘all things’ but I feel I have found the best of all possible worlds for me at this time. Everyone has to find what works for them at the time, and understand that those roles can shift over time as circumstances change.

A tip I have become known for among many other mothers/friends is a binder system that I created and shared many years ago. I keep simple 3-ring binders with pocket systems from office supply stores to help keep my family organized. Binders on my shelf include: family phone/address book (including a business card section for local businesses, home maintenance, and all our accounting, housekeeper, banker, etc. type cards); a book of restaurant take-out menus; a book for the children’s activities and schools; a book for the girls’ health records (this one always goes to doctor appointments with me); a book of ideas for the house divided into sections for each room; recipe books; and a few more that I develop/use as needed. Anyone can do this for themselves and help make life easier and less cluttered.

I told you Clare was organized! Ok, now for some less serious questions…

Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?
I like to shop online for sales at, and used to love Talbots Kids before they closed recently. I find good deals at outlets such as in Blowing Rock and Concord Mills (or other sites as I travel).

What is your favorite family activity?
We have fun doing family game nights at home, which can include board games around the table after dinner or occasional family challenges on the Wii. In the summer, we like to hang out at the pool together and have diving splash contests. The girls enjoy gardening with us, especially planting seeds with Daddy in his vegetable garden and then harvesting their own produce for dinner. In the winter, we love to go skiing together, and all 3 girls are now great at riding the lift with us and can beat us down the slopes.

Favorite “mommy-time” activity?
We all like to get snuggly and read together. The girls have fun shopping with Mommy of course, and they like gardening with Daddy. They also like to walk the dogs with us.

Best place to eat lunch with the kids?
We like Skippy’s on 4th St. (Winston-Salem) for great homemade fries and pretzel dogs. I like their homemade chicken salad. It sure beats fast food choices!

Favorite place to eat dinner out with the kids?
We love the old reliable Village Tavern. They have a great kids menu, including a salmon that our 12-year-old really likes.

Funniest thing your kid(s) has ever said?
One line I often recall and laugh about is when Katie Gray was young and repeating The Lord’s Prayer, which as she heard it says, “Thy kingdom come; I will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven…” Along the lines of funny things children say, I have always kept a little notebook in my car and in my pocketbook so that I can record funny things the girls say or do, thoughts I want to remember, a book or movie I want to see, or a wine to remember, etc. These notes are nice treasures to keep.

Favorite park in the Triad?
Actually our favorite park is not in the Triad… I have to say that we really love to travel to Raleigh and spend a full day at Pullen Park where we can ride the train, pedal boats, historic carousel and more.

Mini-van or SUV?
Totally SUV for us! We use the 4-wheel-drive on our mountain ski trips, and have plenty of room to pack for our many road trips.

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
No traffic!

Best kept secret in the Triad?
No doubt the most under-appreciated is the UNC School of the Arts – huge talent and great performances and events for families and adults close by at bargain prices… way more to offer than just the The Nutcracker!

Best birthday party you have attended?
My favorite was the party we had with the farm animals that came to our backyard.

I could not live without my... lip balm and hand lotion. Seriously, a nice glass of wine at the end of the day is a favorite way to relax for me.

I wish someone had told me sooner about...The increasing time demands of school work, especially the dreaded annual science projects!


Anonymous said...

We live in Greensboro, but I always hear great things about Skippy's. Where exactly is it located? We may have to drive to Winston to try it out!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great profile! Lots of good ideas!

Katie M said...

Clare, thanks for a great Smarty Mom post! I just realized that I never "formally" thanked you at the end of this post! You did a great job - we appreciate it!

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