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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Smarty Mom: Jenny Harris

By Rachel H

I am happy to introduce you to Smarty Mom, Jenny Harris. Jenny was nominated by her friend Deborah who said, “ I have always thought that a true friend expresses love by caring about you first, and that is exactly what Jenny Harris does. She has a kind and gentle temperament that soothes your soul. She is a wonderful wife and mother and one that I look to for advice about numerous topics. She is the master of juggling four schedules, while still finding time for herself and her husband. Her warm smile has lifted me and many others in both hard and happy times. A Smarty Mom is she!”

What a wonderful introduction! Jenny and her husband, Jason, have lived in High Point for 14 years. They have four children; Caroline, 10; Lindsay 8; Sarah Parker 6; and Jace 4. Jason grew up in High Point and Jenny moved here from Durham after getting married. Jenny was a middle school teacher for 4 years until she had Caroline. Since then, she has stayed at home and enjoys volunteering at her childrens' schools.

Her interests are spending time with friends and family, pilates, exercising, Bible study, traveling with her husband and family, and reading (when she gets the chance). She also completed a sprint triathlon last summer and is currently learning to play tennis.

Here’s Jenny!

You have four children ages 4 – 10. What is your best tip for moms with larger families, like your own?
My best tip for large families is to try and get your week organized before it takes control of you. My best weeks are when I have planned what we’ll have for dinner every night and try to do one big grocery store trip at the beginning of the week. I also try to organize my children’s extracurricular activities by keeping a bag for each activity filled with all the supplies/shoes/balls/etc. they will need. Those bags stay near the door so we are ready to go!

Having taught middle school, what is one thing you learned from that experience that you will be able to implement now that your children are getting close to the teenage years?
A lot of people look at me like I am crazy when I say I love middle schoolers, but I think they are so unique and full of energy. They are truly searching for who they are and trying to figure out where they fit in this big world. As my children near this age (I still can’t believe I have a 10 year old!), I will try to remember how confusing it can be for them. The world is telling them to grow up, and yet they are still silly and innocent. I think a way to make those years less awkward and more fulfilling is to give middle schoolers opportunities to serve others. They have so many talents that they are just beginning to realize. It is important that parents find ways their middle schoolers can develop and use those talents to serve others.

How are you able to juggle not only your own activities, but those of your children as well?
I am thankful that even my little one goes to preschool 3 days a week. I know that if I am going to go shopping or work out, it has to be done by 12. If not, I will have some great little helpers tagging along. As far as juggling my children’s activities, I couldn’t survive without my calendar. This year, we are lucky that all of our activities are about 5 minutes from home. That quick drive to and from dance, soccer, or horseback riding makes a world of difference.

What is the smartiest way you save money?
I love shopping sales and getting great deals. The creative container sale is a favorite of mine. I also love the Scholastic Warehouse sale that takes place 2 times a year. I stock up on books for my family as well as for gifts.

What is your favorite family activity?
My favorite family activity is to take a trip to the beach or mountains. We get so excited about packing up and getting new movies to watch on the way. On Friday nights, we also like moving the furniture in our den out of the way and spreading out blankets and pillows. We make a huge “palet,” big enough for everyone to lay on. Then, we watch a new movie and eat Milk Duds. We also enjoy taking walks with our dog, Bailey on the Greenway.

Favorite “me-time” activity?
My favorite me-time activity is to get up early before anyone else, take my coffee out to our screened in porch and spend time reading, praying, and reflecting. When I start my days like that, it makes a huge difference in my attitude.

Favorite place to eat dinner as a family?
Hands down, we love Barberitos in High Point. Their food is always fresh and delicious. They are very kid friendly too.

Favorite date night spot?
Right now, our favorite date night spot is 1618 in Greensboro. They have delicious seafood and the atmosphere is very modern. It’s the kind of place where the chef comes out so you can tell him how great it was and your servers remember you the next time you come. We enjoy the patio as well.

Favorite book you have read?
My favorite book is one I recently read called Same Kind of Different as Me by Denver Moore. It has truly changed the way I think about life. I recommend it to everyone!

Funniest thing one of your children has ever done or said?
I have thought and thought about this one, and have decided I HAVE to start writing their funny comments down so I don’t forget. I think one of the funniest things was when I had to take my son who was 2 at the time to the gynecologist with me. He watched me as I undressed before the doctor came in, and when I was down to my bra he said, “You gonna take those off too?” I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at that. Thankfully, he was very into his toy bag for the remainder of the appt!

Favorite place to shop for children’s clothes?
I love spending the day at Friendly Center. So, shopping at Justice, Gymboree, and Gap are fun for the kids clothes.

Best kept secret in the Triad?
One of the best kept secrets in the Triad is Southern Roots. A superb restaurant in Jamestown on Main Street. It has moved there recently and the atmosphere is so fresh and quaint. They have a great patio to relax on and eat. There are comfy sofas and a fireplace out there. Perfect for lunch with the girls or a date night! Their food is always delicious too.

What is the best birthday party you have attended?
We had a fun birthday party for my oldest daughter a few years ago. In the midst of the Hannah Montana frenzy… we took them to a real recording studio in Greensboro called Underground Sound. The owner, Saul, was so kind and professional with the girls. They got to get in the sound booth, wear the head phones, and sing in small groups into real microphones while their songs were recorded onto a CD. It was really fun. If you do it, I recommend taking only 5-6 girls. We had 9 and it got a little crowded!

What is your favorite mom’s must have item for around the house?
I really like my new Bounce bar that I stuck to my dryer. I don’t have to use the dryer sheet anymore. It’s supposed to last 3 months. Just don’t dry dark clothes on a high temperature – I learned it leaves a white residue on them if you do! I also love my Tyler Candle Company candle – “High Maintenance” is the name of the scent I have. It smells up my whole house and I love it!

Favorite park?
My kids love Triad Park because it has the recycled tire “flooring” instead of mulch.

Favorite or most helpful blog you have read on Triad Smarty Pants thus far?
I love the reminders about the great sales!

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
I can’t imagine living anywhere else! I love how we get to experience all 4 seasons and that we are so close to the beach and the mountains.

Jenny, it was so much fun reading your answers, and you have truly eased my mind a little about my kids entering Middle School one day!

Don't forget to cast your vote for your favorite Homemade Halloween costume! You have until Wednesday, October 14 at 5 pm. Place your vote by clicking here!


Allison T said...

Jenny, you have a beautiful family. I agree with you, I think my favorite "me time" is early before the rest of the family is's so quiet and peaceful.

Deborah said...

Great answers Jenny....could not agree more about all of your restaurant choices.

Gearing up for "container madness"!


Anonymous said...

I agree with Rachel that your answer abotu Middle School made me feel much better! My daughter will be there next year and I am so nervous. You are right that we should not make them grow up too quick. Let them be kids!

Ashley Sharp said...

Jenny, when I saw your name on here I got so excited to read. I have always thought that you were an incredible mom. Your children are so beautiful both inside and out and I know that you are so proud. I still don't understand how you juggle 4 kids, a husband, a beautiful home and still manage to stay tiny. You are amazing and I have always thought so.

Kari Foster Allison said...

Thank you for all of your wonderful thoughts and tips. I went to school in HP with your hubby, so it is nice to hear about raising children there. I too have a 10 year old who will be going through the middle school years, so I appreciate your thoughts about serving others. So true.

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