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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Smarty Mom: Jennifer Thomas

By Katie M

There’s seems to be no shortage of Smarty Moms in the Triad, and today’s mom is another great example. Meet Jennifer Thomas. Jennifer has three children, Ross (10), Lydia (7) and Russell (3). She and her husband, J.T., have lived in the Triad for 11 years. Jennifer considers herself a “hybrid” – a full-time mother and part-time clinical psychologist, author and speaker. Employed by Associates in Christian Counseling, she works with couples and individuals of all ages.

Besides her children, her greatest reward has been her book, which she researched with two pre-schoolers at home and published three months before her third child was born. Jennifer co-authored her book with Dr. Gary Chapman, an internationally respected marriage and family life expert, and pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. Their book, The Five Languages of Apology: How To Experience Healing in all Your Relationships, explores how the evidence of sincerity in an apology differs from one recipient to another.

Writing a book is certainly an inspiration to many moms, and I’m intrigued by the topic - something we all can relate to. Let’s find out more about this Smarty.

What inspired you to write a book about apologies?
The inspiration for her book came after an argument with her husband. She explained, “I thought I had apologized for a mistake when I said ‘I’m sorry,’ but he thought a sincere apology must include other things. I learned that for him to be ready to move on, it’s helpful when I can say ‘I was wrong.’ Gary Chapman and I decided to do some joint research on apologies and we found there are five categories of apologies; you can’t simply guess what words will be music to the ears of others.”

What was the biggest challenge in writing your book, besides being a full-time mom?
My biggest challenge has been keeping these priorities in order: God, husband, kids, family and friends, work, charity, and home management.

Did you always work as a mom? Or did you go back to work after kids?
After 6 years of graduate school, I didn't want to put my license away but I also didn't want to work full-time. I admire moms who manage to juggle it all. As for me, I'm grateful to my employer who has supported me in keeping my part-time work schedule quite manageable. I'm also grateful to my counseling clients who have entrusted me with their private thoughts over the past 10 years.

What Smarty tips do you have for moms in your position?
If your child's school has bus service, consider using it. We've had good luck so far with this time-saving and gas-saving freebie.

Also, at the risk of sounding like a marriage counselor, do not give up the habit of dating your spouse. It's good for you two and it doubles as a wonderful lesson for your kids. Try swapping date nights with a friend or have a standing appointment with your babysitter. While you're on the date, try to branch out beyond discussions of the kids. We try to talk about the kids first (if necessary at all) and then talk about what has filled each of our days, hopes and dreams, personal concerns, travel plans, and current events.

Speaking of travel, we've managed to get away alone together two or three times per year. I try to join my husband on his business trips and we've gone to visit friends as far away as Los Angeles and London. The last time we came home, the kids had no permanent scars from our absence, and they sure did appreciate our relaxed parenting style (compared to their babysitter!).

Let’s switch gears and chat about the lighter side of being a mom.

Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?
Carolina Thrift on W. Wendover Ave. in Greensboro. They have special discounts on Mondays. They have clothing for all ages. I have particularly good luck in the ladies shoes area.

What is your favorite family activity?
Walking the loop around Country Park in Greensboro with several other families most Sunday afternoons

Favorite “mommy-time” activity?
Rounding up a few ladies who will go with me to feed my addiction to PF Changs at Friendly Center in Greensboro. I always order the Shrimp with Candied Walnuts and Brown Rice. It has a lemon sauce on it that is making me drool as I am thinking about it. Really!

Best place to eat lunch and/or dinner with the kids?
Boston Market is a crowd pleaser. I just saw a sign in their window advertising "Two kids eat free." I plan to check that out. (And we need to add that to our Kids Eat Free blog on Triad Smarty Pants!)

Favorite date place?
The newest restaurant in Greensboro, Imperial Koi at 1941 New Garden Road, or River Birch Lodge at 3324 Robinhood Road in Winston-Salem.

Favorite park in the Triad?
Triad Park in Kernersville. Pack some helmets and let your kids scale their rock-climbing towers. Don't forget your camera!

Mini-van or SUV?
We haven't bought a Mini-van yet. I do still recall a neighbor who commented while I was pregnant with my 3rd child that I'd soon have to trade in my cute car for a Mini-van like hers. This is a raging debate, isn't it?!

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
Having moved here from the Baltimore-Washington corridor, I'd have to say that the lack of congestion here is something I never want to take for granted. When the traffic reporters say that there are "no tie-ups to report in the Triad", I chuckle at how fortunate we are!

Best kept secret in the Triad?
The center at which I work as a psychologist. A bit about us: Associates in Christian Counseling is a faith-based organization whose mission is to provide professional mental health services to all who seek them regardless of race, creed or financial status. Those who seek our help will find a credentialed, professional staff offering a unique approach that is tailored to the needs of the individual client. This can include psychological concepts, Biblical precepts and a variety of mental health techniques and services.

Our history: Nearly twenty years ago, several churches worked together to establish our free-standing center. Although located in Winston-Salem (with a satellite office in Mount Airy), we draw clients from throughout the Triad, surrounding counties, and Southwest Virginia. Our services: We have ten therapists who provide comprehensive assessment and counseling to children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families.

Best birthday party you have attended?
Roger Church's 40th birthday bash. They rented out the wood-paneled upstairs room at Natty Greene's Pub in Greensboro. Great atmosphere, friends, and food! (I love how you answered this from an adult perspective even though I meant best “child” birthday party. It shows that we ALL still like to have fun!)

What’s your favorite thing about Triad Smarty Pants?
Learning from other Smarty Moms. I can't get enough of your tips!

I could not live without my... Cover Girl Outlast All Day Lipcolor. I look comatose without lipstick, but who has time to reapply it?

I wish someone had told me sooner about... Free Saturday crafts at Lowes Home Improvement, Home Depot, and Michael's. Thrifty tip: Some free craft events can be used for kids' birthday parties, and the craft projects do double duty as party favors!

Thanks, Jennifer, for all your Smarty answers – and tips, yourself! I know I picked up a few tips and I’m sure other moms did as well!


Honor said...

What a fun, informative article! I'm so proud of my smart(y), savvy sister-in-law! Congrats, Jen!

Sally H. said...

Couldn't agree more about making sure you do date nights. Thanks for an informative read today!
Sally H.

Clarrisa N said...

I have read another book by Gary Chapman and thought it was terrific. I am excited to read this one that you co-wrote with him. Enjoyed reading your post today!!

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